Your Pic

Ravenloft Character Histories

Races Button Up

Ravenloft Heirlooms

map up



Backgrounds Button Up

Deadlands Character Histories


  • Hello and Goodbye
    Written by

    Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

    Hello and Goodbye

     Jon has started a 1st edition D&D campaign after having a bout of nostalgia.  Hello and welcome!  Brian has had an unfortunate case of death, brought on by a virulent bout of Balorism.  Goodbye!

    Written on Saturday, 12 June 2021 19:26 in Game News
    Tags: News D&D
    Be the first to comment! Read 247 times
  • Andy's Game On Hold
    Written by

    Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

    Andy's Game On Hold

    Andy notified us last week that his game is on hold.  We all wish him the best and hope he can restart when it's convenient for him.

    Written on Thursday, 04 February 2021 14:15 in Game News
    Tags: D&D
    Be the first to comment! Read 314 times
  • A New World!
    Written by

    Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

    A New World!

    Brian is starting a new campaign in the Ravenloft setting.  While he is encouraging odd races from the base books (Player's Handbook, Modenkainen's, XAnathar, Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, Elemental Evil Player's Guide, and Volo's) all other sources are discouraged with the possible exception of Eberron.  Starting racial feat, +2 to stats with a base distribution of 15,14,13,12,10,8.  There will be Heirloom magic items that grow in power (1st, 4th, 8th, 12th).  Campaign is expected to go through level 15th. An additional +1 to any stat is given if a character history is provided.

    Written on Saturday, 24 October 2020 15:27 in Game News
    Tags: D&D
    Be the first to comment! Read 359 times
  • Andy's Game: Restarted
    Written by

    Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

    Andy's Game: Restarted

    Andy has been re-homed and his game has re-started.  So we shall all re-play D&D.

    Written on Saturday, 05 September 2020 20:10 in Game News
    Tags: D&D
    Be the first to comment! Read 388 times
  • Deadwood has begun
    Written by

    Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

    Deadwood has begun

    Andy's game is postponed due to Andy moving. Several games have cropped up, mostly using the Savage Worlds ruleset. Deadwoods is one of these subsets that uses Savage Worlds. Brian is kind enough to run a campaign through this dry time. Paul also has a Savage Worlds campaign running, however, I do not know enough about his game to publish anything. Jon will also be running Fantasy Trip as a side game. Anyone is welcome to post on this site about their game and if they want help filling out blogs or pages regarding their game I will be happy to lend a hand.

    Written on Sunday, 24 May 2020 15:48 in Game News Be the first to comment! Read 511 times
Tuesday, 07 March 2023 22:49

We started at the top of the order with Loki.  He was in a tight spot.  In an archimage’s lair, surrounded by magical darkness that the Mage could see in but Loki could not.  DG’s first thought was to ignite the “sun” sword in hopes that it might penetrate the darkness.  Brian told him he could “feel” that it was somehow broken.  He then put forth several reasons why he might have a fighting chance of finding the window out again but it boiled down to a contested skill roll.  Loki’s survival versus his perception.  He rolled an 18 and DG rolled a nat 20.  Loki went into all 4s mode and scampered past him and out the window, down the statue with his climb speed.  The Mage went next.  He cast something on Loki which he used an inspiration to save against.  Some sort of paralysis spell.  But since he was still in the darkness, we didn’t know what else he did.  Then everyone else got to go.  Unfortunately, most everyone was in the adjacent hall and without the at will teleportation he had, it was going to take a round or two to get into the main room.  Plus, Kaladin and Patrina were late arriving.

Loki headed towards the exit, hoping that the Mage couldn’t leave the temple? The NPC wizard we promised to take with us was confused and cast Greater Invisibility on himself.  Unfortunately, he stood in a doorway.  Baron Q plowed into him and was forced to stop.  Ezra plowed into him and knocked him over.  Some of us were still exhausted from the ghosts last time and moved at half.  The Mage appeared in the first hallway.  He cast Heat Metal on the sword hilt in hopes of forcing Loki to drop it.  He then cast Chain Lightning on 4 of us.  Ezra and Ireena saved and evaded it.  Loki and Lord Q didn’t save and took all 50.  And then teleported away.  Baron Q dispelled the Heat Metal and turned the corner to head up the last hallway to the exit only to find him up there waiting.  And this was the hallway with the huge steps so it was going to be Athletics rolls and difficult terrain to get up it.  Ezra got up one step.  Loki fired 4 shots and with the Mage’s Shield, missed on all four.  He continued towards the crack in the wall exit the barbarians used. 

At this point, the Mage made his mistake.  He teleported into the midst of us and up cast Banishment.  Loki and Esmeralda missed the save and disappeared.  (Along with the sword, by the way.)  I think around here, he revealed his true form.  A fox headed demi god? Baron Q cast a Mental Prison but he saved.  And the conciliation physic damage all bounced.  But now the melee guys could finally catch up.  Kharn raced up the stairs and with an extra boost of movement from raging, hit him.  Right around here, that NPC wizard decided it was time to make his move and cast Cone of Cold on a bunch of us including the Mage.  And promptly went back invisible.  Then Kaladin went.  He hexed the Mage, then hit him.  All the damage bounced except the one point of necrotic from the hex.  That caused him to miss his concentration and the banished returned.  He then missed his stunning fist save.  Then Ezra hit him with a 2nd level smite and crit him with another 2nd level smite doing a ton.

At that point, now bloodied, the Mage teleported across the room as a free action and cast a Fireball?  While stunned? But he had been “breaking the rules” the whole fight.  Stunned, he got hit 3 times by Loki and hit by Esmeralda and finished off by a Disintegrate from Lady P.  Meanwhile the NPC wizard’s Quasit attacked and its master kept fighting.  The Quasit was finished off pretty quickly but we could not target the guy.  He finished off Lady P and Loki with a Fireball.  And once berried, took them out again.  However, that revealed he was in the hallway upstairs.  Esmeralda cast an AOE persistent Cinder Cloud.  He finally dropped after two rounds of that.  As is usually the case, half the players were at death’s door and half were barely touched.  A bunch of things were proposed to do.  Bandaging, short rest, searching his lair in the statue, trying to figure out if the missing part of the sword was in there or elsewhere or needed at all, transferring Ezra’s Cleric scrolls to the NPC Ireena, leaving, staying, and another half dozen things.  But we didn’t seem to be able to do anything but bring up more stuff.  At this point, the chronicler went to bed as he had an early morning the next day.  Perhaps the back up chronicler can add on from there.

Sunday, 12 February 2023 12:13

After defeating the Amber Golem last time, we took a pause to reassess.  We had been told that the Sun Sword would have been dropped near the entrance.  However, we were pretty deep into the temple at this point.  We decided to double back.  (Which was ironic since the next door was the last door on this side.)  On the way, we decided to search the mage chapel a bit more.  While searching for secret doors, we found a singed mage hiding behind the lectern.  He claimed to have come in with his master who was burned to a crisp by flaming skulls.  On the other side.  After some questioning, we agreed to leave him there and come back and get him on our way out.  Back in the room with the now plugged hole in the floor, Loki found a secret door.  That lead to a scroll storage room however none of the scrolls were intact.  Just bits and dust.  We skipped the main room and went to the other side.  In there were some barbarian types and their pet Dire Wolf.  Ezra managed to negotiate a discussion.  Evidently, they were hunters that were using this place as a camp.  For a deserted temple that required at least 11th level to enter, it sure was busy in here.

So, we agreed to part without a fight however the door behind them was the last stone unturned.  We went into the main room and searched.  There were no doors and no one found any secret doors.  We knew there was a room on this level that had the red mist but hadn’t found it yet.  We did note that the big statue in the room had a Darkness at its head.  Which meant we couldn’t see who it was.  We thought about dispelling it or climbing up but decided to delay messing with it.  Maybe there was a sleeping god up there.  That led us back to the barbarians.  Ezra asked what they wanted to let us pass.  500 gp, which was outrageous but we had it.  For that, they said they’d pack up and leave.  Before they left, Loki used his Wand of Detect Magic since Lord Q was not present.  He did not detect anything on them.  Like a Sun Sword.  They left via a crack in the wall in the room.  The door was opened and we saw a long hallway with 6 flaming skulls.

Once again, they plastered us with low DC Fireballs.  We rolled poorly on initiative and just had to take it.  Those with Evasion fared much better but 4 Fireballs, even at half damage, hurt.  Kaladin and Ambrus got critted by eye rays as well.  We took them out but needed a short rest before going on.  We had used up our healing from the previous fights.  In the hall was the body of the master of the guy we’d seen before.  He was indeed burnt and his spell books destroyed.  His magic staff was okay.  Lady Patrina took that to be Identified later.  We held up in the barbarian room.  A few minutes in, that apprentice knocked.  He wanted a status and was particularly interested in his master’s books and staff.  Patrina hid the staff in her Portable Hole.  According to him, it was a staff of cold.  We finished our short rest and headed down the hallway.  We found a door that led down a level but we left it.  We were still hoping the sword was up here.  We found a room that stored potions but none were magic anymore.  We then found a room with a model of the vampire’s castle.  The battered crates and chest in the corner were empty and Loki used another charge and found no magic.  At the end of the hall was a door that led into a banquet room with a fine meal laid out.  And a door that probably lead to the balcony overlooking the main room.  Loki announced that the ewer was magic.  Patrina rushed forward and grabbed it with the intent of putting it away for further study.

When she touched it, a dozen Specters appeared in the chairs.  Multiple people ordered her to put it back but unfortunately her initiative was low and she went after every Specter.  Some delayed but there was no point.  Combat ensued.  Their to hit bouns was 4 and Brian rolled low so they barely hit.  They mostly swung at Patrina.  However, when they died, all that were near them had to make a Con save or take a level of exhaustion.  Several took two levels and were really screwed.  She cast a Dawn spell however it was the usual AOE friendly fire nightmare.  She tried to order people to leave the room but they could not until their turn.  Meanwhile, the Specters started to fly through the walls to escape.  It was a mess but they were taken out in a couple rounds.  With the Dawn still going, she decided to move it onto the statue to cancel the Darkness.  Everyone got one round of movement before she did this and that left us scattered.

It turns out, Dawn does not cancel Darkness although it did allow us to see the head of the god of secrets.  But it also awoke the archimage sleeping in its head.  He demanded to know who dared to disturb him.  We asked some questions.  Patina advised him to move out of the statue and would not move her spell.  So, the mage teleported next to her as a move action, cast Finger of Death and killed her.  How he found her, I’m not sure.  But villains play by their own rules.  Ezra attempted to calm things down.  He was here doing research.  He knew nothing about the sword and claimed to know nothing about Stradhanya which we found unbelievable.  (Maybe this was Stradhanya, for the truly paranoid.)  We said we wanted the sword to defeat her evil reign and he seemed to at least consider it.  During this, Ezra used his last Lay on Hands to save Patrina.  Meanwhile, Loki slipped away and went into the main room.  Ezra could sense that he was not being truthful about the sword.  Loki climbed the statue and felt his way around and found the eye hole.  I.e. the Darkness was still there.  The Mage started to sense something was wrong while Ezra tried to keep him engaged.  The Mage took a step to get line of sight to the statue and teleported over just as Loki grabbed ahold of a sword hilt with a good perception roll.  “What are you doing, squirrel?”  “Er, just trying to prevent a fight over a sword you say you didn’t need.”  He’s got True Sight always on, of course.  We stopped there.  It seems like a tall order but since he had the sword, it seems as if we are supposed to defeat him.    

Before and after, we had some discussions about Path Finder.  Other than Dan, everyone had varying degrees of apprehension about this new system.  Most of the backgrounds being considered were orphans and outcasts that happen to find themselves in this village.  Brian was hoping for better links but was willing to work on it.  It’s a common problem.  The game designers build towns that are most humans but the players all want to be non-humans.  You’d think these designers would have figure that out by now.  Or make humans better.  Brian said we’d start at 1st and has shelved the junior mage school idea for now.  The general trend seems to be trouble maker young adults, bored with their small town.  Anyhow, the ideas presented were as follows.  Dan has a gnome sorcerer with dragon magic.  DG has a human shape changing Druid, black sheep daughter of the town leader.  BTO was thinking charming Swashbuckler but hadn’t gotten any further.  Paul was thinking a Bard Orc or half Orc.  Andy was thinking a blessed Rogue.  And Jon was thinking an elf Monk who is more of an unarmed fighter whose style translates as Monk.  Although since no one was doing a Wizard, he was feeling some obligation to do so.  So, currently its 3 martial and 3 magic. 

Sunday, 05 February 2023 16:32

We started, surrounded by enemies.  Between the Vrocks, the tower and the cliffs to either side, there was nowhere to maneuver.  The Vrocks had two at will AOEs, (stun and poison) that kept recharging.  We started slugging.  Unfortunately, the mages took the brunt of the damage.  Esmeralda could take it but Patrina could not.  She went down before her turn came up.  But we had Ezra back.  Not only did he do a ton of damage to these fiends with his Holy Avenger smites, but gave people bonuses to their saves as well.  Other than Patrina, we did okay.  At the end, the NPC cast a Time Stop spell.  (9th?)  She ran to the top of the tower, cast a Disintegrate against which it saved and some other high-level spell.  All on the same turn.  It was over soon after that.  We chose to try for a long rest rather than take a short rest.  But Irena did bandaging, several did Prayer of Healing and Ezra did Lay on Hands just in case we got attacked again.  We did not and continued on our way the next morning.

The Amber Temple was impressive.  There were massive steps (10 foot high) leading down into it which we navigated without issue.  Loki spotted some arrow slits up high but they were not manned.  This place seemed empty as a tomb.  The first room had more stairs going down plus a closed door to the left and an opened door to the right.  Esmeralda’s research told us that the Sun Sword was purportedly dropped off the main path near the entrance.  We figured that ought to be the open door way.  Loki snuck in and found a hole in the floor.  It appeared to have been blasted although there was no debris.  Patrina sent her manifest mind down the hole and ran into 5-6 Flaming Skulls.  Initiative.  Initially, Brian put them all into the room but it was argued successfully that they ought to move on their initiative.  The first came up and fired a Fireball with its free action.  That got most everyone.  The DC was low so all saved but even half of 30 was nothing to sneeze at.  (Although some Evaded it.)  It then used its eye beams on Loki who was the closest. 

Patrina went next and decided to launch a (radiant) Fireball down the hole.  She tried to target it such that it wouldn’t get Loki or the one Skull but given the size of the room below, Brian ruled that the spill over would get them anyway.  Just before she fired, Brian said her manifest mind saw 3-4 sarcophaguses in the room as well.  But she cast it anyway.  We heard a boom, the floor shook, we heard a crack and saw red mist rising through the hole.  Esmeralda started yelling about telling us there were evil demi-god in here and we needed to be more careful.  We were worried although it turns out only one had cracked open.  More Skulls came up and cast a couple more Fireballs.  Loki saved against all but was hit by all and was nearly out.  We blasted the Skulls.  Baron Q bravely ran in and cast his Gust of Wind spell.  That pushed the mist down but he could tell it was fighting against him.  Esmeralda waited for Patrina’s mind to determine the sword was not in the room below and then cast a Stone Wall to seal the hole.  The last Skull was crushed and it was over.  After 10 minutes of concentration, the wall became permanent during which some healing was done.

A bit shaken, we pressed on.  We opened a door into an empty room.  Then down a hall to the north and through a door on the right.  That was some sort of evil chapel great hall.  There was nothing obvious in there and since the door was shut, we left it alone.  At the end of the hall was a half-destroyed room with an amber statue (golem) in it.  It turned its head and we rolled initiative again.  We blasted away although its AC was higher than most foes.  This time, Ezra was rocked with a crit.  It also had a Slow AOE power but only Kharn missed that save.  It moved through the door and started down the hall.  Ezra used up a lot of his smites and we whittled it down.  Loki finished it off with a crit.  It exploded for minor damage as a parting shot.  Thankfully, no demi God demon emerged from it however no Sun Swords did either.  We stopped there.  I think we’re already deeper into this Temple than we hoped.  The stakes feel higher and higher.   

Wednesday, 25 January 2023 11:59

There was a brief discussion as to what our next task should be but the promise of a powerful vampire slaying Sun Sword at the Amber Temple trumped all.  We headed south with the two NPCs included.  Esmeralda and Irena.  The weather quickly turned cold but we argued that the researching NPCs would have warned us and we would have picked up some extra clothes.  Rather than argue the point, Brian allowed us to bring some, although they were a bit shabby.  We reached the bridge without incident.  There, we faced a fortress guarding the narrow pass.  There were statues on the walls but no people were seen.  The portcullis opened automatically but there was a wall of green flame in the way.  An arcana roll indicated that a Dispel Magic was needed.  Searches for levers or buttons or writings or any else yielded nothing.  Rather than risk finding a way around or over, which wouldn’t work with the wagon anyway, Patrina just cast the spell.  We hurried through.  There was a door into the tower on the other side.  We spent some time searching it but we found nothing but stone and bones on all 3 levels.  Eventually, we moved onto the bridge.

As Ambrus got to it, a mysterious rider in black appeared in the middle.  He hailed him at which point it turned to dust and blew away.  We never did figure out what that was about.  Ambrus went across cautiously, looking for traps or faulty stone.  When he reached the other side, others started across.  Kaladin chose to fly across, looking under to make sure there weren’t any trolls or anything.  And then, from up river, a gargantuan Roc flew in and attacked.  It grabbed him with its talons and crit him with his beak and he went from full to a handful of hit points.  It landed on the far side to finish him off.  Ambrus charged towards it and bravely engaged.  The rest started moving across the bridge, firing range shots if they could, but it was going to take a round or two.  Kaladin attacked a couple times, then Misty Stepped out of its grasp and flew back to some cover.  When Patrina finally got to go, she turned Kaladin into a T-Rex, with a new compliment of hit points.  Unfortunately, he barely fit in the archway he was hiding and blocked those that were trying to get past.  But that was a momentary distraction.  Massive amounts of damage were pumped into it.  But it did save against a Disintegrate from both Baron Q and Patrina. 

Just when the meleers finally got over to it, it decided to fly back across the river with the T-Rex in tow.  Gargantuan carrying huge.  And that’s when things got complicated.  Do we kill it and let the T-Rex fall 500 feet into the river below? Kaladin could fly but could Patrina dismiss the spell in time? Most kept shooting and the T-Rex kept biting.  It started to fly off the board.  Patina dismissed the Polymorph and cast Bigby’s Hand and caught Kaladin.  However, Esmeralda continued with her plan and Dimension Doored she and the raging Kharn onto its back.  It started to fly away and Brian gave them an Acrobatics roll to stay on which she promptly missed.  Kharn tried to argue to use Animal Handling instead since he was proficient in it.  Brian said that would be a tougher 20 roll but if he made it, he’d give Ez another roll.  Paul rolled and missed.  Inspired and missed.  She inspired him and he missed again.  (Does that ever work?) As Brian started calculating falling damage, DG pointed out that Kaladin was right near them on the floating hand.  He should use his Rope Skill to lasso them to safety.  That was so ridiculous and turn based rule breaking that Brian allowed it.  DG got an inspiration for it.  Kaladin missed it.  Inspired and missed.  Used DG’s new inspiration and he missed again.  (Does that ever work?) They fell into the water but Kharn took half damage and Esmeralda had tons of hit points.  She simply DD’ed them back up as the Roc flew off.

We needed a rest.  Preferably a long one given the number of high-level spells used.  Since it was near the end of the day, we decided to take a long rest in the tower rather than on the road.  Watches were formed.  In the 2nd watch, we were attacked by 4-5 Giant Hell Goats.  What now? Some bounded onto the roof and the others beat on the door.  People awoke or were awoken as they could and a fight ensued.  That was going well enough when the statues on the top of the towers turned into Vrock demons and flew down to attack.  4 of them.  They did an AOC poison attack which put the poison effect on and did continuing damage.  Then they did an AOE screech attack that stunned.  And then on their actual action, had a claw and beak attack.  In that first round, at least 5 heroes were poisoned and a couple stunned.  By this point it was 1 AM so we decided to call it.  Hopefully our demon slaying Paladin will return from watering the horses to help in the fight.  And this will certainly mess up our long rest.  I anticipate a late morning next time.
Wednesday, 25 January 2023 11:54

We were attacked by 6 packs of wolves.  Super swarms, if you will.  They were large, had reach, did 3d10+, had 100s of hit points, had a low AC, and got a free attack when they went below half after which they did a bit less damage.  We could hear a familiar woman’s voice cackling in the forest.  They were tough.  Their size and reach made maneuvering difficult and the horses were in the middle of it all.  Loki got one to himself and climbed a tree.  The rest sort of piled up so some fire was concentrated on pack 1.  Ambrus used the Ring to cast Web and two packs were restrained.  That helped a lot.  Stradanya cast half a wall on round 2 and the other half on round 3.  So, we were surrounded by a 20-foot high wall.  Loki jumped out of the tree and ran along the top, firing along the way, to get on her side.  Lord Q was impressive with an upcasted Shadow Blade but most everyone was doing 30+ points a round.  Whether than was from sneak attacks, sharp shooting, smites, shadow blades and crits.  Their low AC certainly helped as did Kharn-vantageTM. In round 4, she cast Cloud Kill.  That sparked a debate as to whether we took damage when it was cast and then more damage when our turns came up.  I.e. two CON saves before ever getting to go.  That seemed harsh but that’s how Brian ruled.  But it was very difficult to get past that debate. 

Thankfully, the Cloud was smaller than the Walled area so there was somewhere to run.  And the wolves took damage too.  Funny how villains don’t have to worry about friendly fire.  Lord Q went down first.  (Ironic since he was mostly untouched the last fight.  The fortunes of war.)  But he was in a Cloud so he’d be failing death saves quickly.  Loki decided to risk shooting at the vampire in hopes of breaking her concentration.  He missed and rerolled and missed again.  He hit but she threw up a Shield turning it into a miss.  And then, without sharpshooter because of the Shield, hit with a crit.  Doing a whopping 16 points which she instantly healed even though it wasn’t her turn.  But he got her attention.  She upcasted Fireball, expertly placed with a +19 Arcana skill roll to get Loki and several others.  It was looking very dire as there were still 3 packs left.  But then, once again, she decided she’d tortured us enough and it all just disappeared.  Another unsatisfying fight.  At 11th level, we are no more match for her than we were at 1st.  Seemed pointless and hopeless.

That sparked a discussion about whether we were making any progress.  We certainly weren’t doing any damage to her as evidenced by fighting her every 3rd night.  Brian quoted the readings we got from Madame Eva two years ago that no one remembered.  Those were supposedly 5 things we had to do before facing her and we had done 3, I think.  That point was that we’re making progress plot-wise if not combat-wise.  Beacon of Hope, Sunlight in the Druid lands, Staff of Power, research into her backstory, etc.  It was still daunting.  However, since our 3 possible paths involved fighting her or fighting what was empowering her, it did not seem like we had any chance of accomplishing any of them.  We faced group paralysis.  Brian pulled GM privilege and stated that we’d go back to Kresk and see if Esmeralda had made any progress with her research.  Maybe she has ideas the dim-witted players did not.                                                                             

Wednesday, 28 December 2022 23:50

We approached the bridge across the river at the falls when suddenly 4 of Stradanya’s vampire minions appeared.  A couple, we had fought in Valaki.  One was the girl we were unable to save from Stradanya.  The wizard one in charge reminded them that they had an order of preference or some such.  Ambrus went first and hid in the trees.  Loki started firing.  Two of them charged at Patrina and Ezra.  Evidently, they were the most dangerous.  No surprise there.  Unfortunately for Petrina, by the time she went at the bottom of the order, they were fully engaged so no AOE’s this time.  Save or die spells were exchanged.  They got several reaction powers which made up for their lack of numbers.  We used several inspiration points to keep from turning on our friends. 

Kharn showed up in round two.  We battled.  Lord Q hit with a Banishing Strike and put one away in a pocket dimension for 10 rounds.  Meanwhile, Ambrus snuck under the bridge to get behind the leader.  He spotted a hunter with a crossbow aimed at her but he did not blow his cover.  He then used his Mage Hand to pluck the wizard’s component pouch from her belt and toss it down the cliff.  Not all of her spells had components but it did limit her options.  (That earned him an inspiration for original thinking.)  However, at round three, one of them tried to put a ruby bracelet on Kharn.  When she failed, the wizard yelled “3” and they teleported away.  Evidently, they had a plan or a time limit.  We were poised for when the Banish Smite ended, but she did not reappear.  Yet another unsatisfactory vampire fight.  Doubly so, since I think we were winning.

The hunter was looking for his son.  He had tracked him as far as the bridge.  Loki helped track him from there and his footprints seemed to just end as if he teleported or was grabbed by something flying.  Some took a short rest while some others searched around.  We found nothing conclusive.  A dragon or an Ogre Magi? Someone spotted a ledge or cave behind the waterfall about 100 feet down.  After some debate, we got over there to take a good look.  It would be possible to climb down the cliff and get behind the water.  But not easy.  Flying Kaladin secured 100 feet of rope and we went down.  The skilled helping the unskilled.  We left the hunter with the wagon but he followed anyway.  Ambrus tried to sneak ahead but with all the light sources for the humans, there wasn’t much point.  At least we were quiet.  We saw boneless corpses lying about.  Ambrus triggered a cage trap at a choke point but managed to jump back in time.  At which point, the Flesh Corpses animated and their shadows became Shadows.  This time Patrina was near the top of the order and unleashed a radiant Fireball with minimal friendly fire.  With that softening up, they were all dispatched.  Ezra taking out the last on our last initiative.  The bars of the cage could not be bested by Kharn but with he and Ezra working together, they managed to get past.

The path to the left lead to some sort of torcher room.  The path to the right went unexplored but it looked like they lead to the same third chamber.  There were all kinds of body parts and butchery tools hanging about.  Tied to the table was Mad Mary, the mother of the same girl we just fought.  And failed to save.  While she was rescued, Loki guarded the doorway to the next room.  That triggered another cage trap.  He bravely chose to leap in, figuring time was of the essence if we were to save the missing son.  Loki started to search, hoping his invisible to darkvision power would protect him.  A Flesh Mound fell from the ceiling.  (It didn’t have eyes so evidently used tremor sense.)  He was hit twice, then engulfed.  Grappled and restrained.  Some of the others went down the right path only to encounter another cage trap.  Ambrus picked the lock of the second cage and then Kharn and Ezra bent the bars to get back out.  Meanwhile, Loki successfully argued that he could escape the engulf (after taking more damage on a missed Con save) with an athletics check on his action.  He got out, disengaged with a bonus action and then ran to the other side of the room.  Where another Flesh Mound fell from the ceiling.  He was hit twice and engulfed.  At this point, he had a handful of hit points.  There were a total of 3 of those large things in the room plus two flying skulls.  And when they moved, they left goo behind which attacked as well.  It was chaos.

Meanwhile, as others rushed into the room, the cackling hunter turned into the Ogre Magi we had half expected.  (He had a nifty staff which we assumed was the Staff of Power we were seeking.)  He and Patrina exchanged Force Walls and counter spells.  Kharn was also engulfed.  He decided to stay in and fight at disadvantage.  (He fights recklessly anyway so there wasn’t much difference.  At least he was proficient in Con saves.)  Loki tried to escape once but then came to the same conclusion.  People fought.  Patrina managed to Radiant Fireball the whole room.  However, Kharn and Loki were “safe” in the Flesh Mounds and Kaladin, Ezra and Amburs had Evasion.  I.e. minimal friendly fire.  That did some good.  It was looking dicey and once again, the main villain was mostly untouched.  By then it was 2 AM so we called it a night.  We let Patrina have one last turn since Brian will not make the next game.  Another Fireball.  Will we survive next time? Patrina will cease to exist and Loki will be out on the next failed Con save.  As for the others, damage varies but it ain’t good.  And the Ogre Magi is still at large.  Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion.        

Saturday, 17 December 2022 16:40

We started, still at Blintzsky’s, trying to get a long rest before continuing.  But first, there were a few more things to investigate.  Lady Petrina asked about any high-quality inks that might be for purchase.  I.e. for magic scroll and spell book copying.  Turns out, he did have some because the monkey created that scroll spell book, we found last time.  Brian rolled randomly and got, I think, 26 levels worth.  Lady P was given the leftover mitral and palatium pieces off the party sheet and Loki gave her 3 platinum from his sheet to cover the costs.  She also picked up a bag of dice that she intended to use for her new Animate Objects spell.  Kharn asked about the line of dolls that looked remarkably like him.  He was told that they were commissioned by a guard in Valaki who claimed to be missing his little brother.  So evidently, not only does Kharn have a twin sister but a brother as well.  We folded up the portable boat and took that long rest.

In the morning, we sailed to the shore closest to the Tree of Life encountered last time.  With a good Survival roll from Kharn, we found it without much trouble.  (Brian had bolstered this encounter so it was laid out a bit differently.)  We saw the original tree, 4 more and one dead one in sort of an H pattern.  Each had a Fey lantern hanging in its branches.  Loki cast his Speak with Plants spell.  Only the biggest spoke into his mind, all be it slowly.  Loki offered to help it and ask for help against the Vampire.  When asked why, he said that she was throwing off the natural balance and name-dropped Laura Stoneheart’s name (the druid god we recently rescued) for good measure.  He was shown a ritual in which the heart of a creature (i.e. a raccoon) could be harvested and combined with an acorn to create another Guardian Tree.  Presumably to replace the one that was dead? He turned that offer down.  Meanwhile Lady P examined the lanterns.  They were emitting tons of life energy but were pointing in random directions.  She thought if they were focused, they might be able to turn her into a live person.  Or, we thought, revive the dead tree.  So, we started talking about how to do that.  The tree stopped talking by that point. 

However, then player paranoia started kicking in.  (And in this place where everything is out to kill us, paranoia just makes good sense.)  The Paladin could detect some vague evil.  Loki rolled a good Insight and could sense the tree was holding something back.  But isn’t everyone? What if the dead tree was an evil tree? The Baron was in favor of walking away and was Ambrus.  However, the consensus was to try it and see what happens.  What’s the point of playing if you don’t do stuff? And, of course, it all went bad.  Once the first lantern was redirected, Wood Woads emerged from each tree.  Patrina tried to explain to them in Sylvan that we were trying to help them but they did not appear to care.  Once Kharn raged and attacked, we were in combat mode.  The WW were tough.  The Baron hit one with an upcasted Blight which did max damage against a plant and it was only wounded.  Good AC, attack, damage, two attacks, various resistances and they regenerated 10 a round to boot.  But we do a lot of damage and after a couple rounds, there was only one left. 

And then things got worse.  Evidently, the lanterns were part of a mystic seal that was holding a 20-foot-high Night Terror demon thing.  (No good deed goes unpunished.)  It had a damage field that extended 30 feet which was tough on our hand-to-hand heavy group.  It did lots of damage and had tons of hit points.  Its AC was low though.  Ezra did a ton of damage with a smite crit.  For his efforts, the demon knocked him out, the next round.  This was particularly dicey since he was in the damage field and would automatically miss a death save each round.  Nobody could really help him but damage kept pouring into it.  Luckily, it didn’t have any legendary actions so it didn’t go very often.  But its damage was adding up, plus we started hurt from the first fight.  But then the Baron hit it with a Banishing Strike and it popped out. Since nothing can get out of this place, it could not return to its native plane.  So, one minute later, it would return.  In that minute, we gave Ezra a berry, he did Lay on Hands and Patrina cast some Cure Wounds.  People positioned themselves with various advantages and we waited.  But when it came back, it didn’t last the round.  It was reduced to a burned-out heart.  An Arcana roll concluded it could not be destroyed in this plane so we put it in a jar and stuffed it in the portable hole.   (Dan: Brian later told us that he had intended to have the encounter either way.  That was why he made all the clues so vague and conflicting)

We took a short rest and got back onto the boat.  We returned to the Vastani camp and took a long rest there.  We debated going into Valaki.  Some wanted to overthrow the pro-vampire government that so ruthlessly took over recently but we didn’t know what we’d replace it with.  It seemed a tall order.  There were also various loose ends including Kharn’s brother.  But most of us were wanted and it just didn’t seem worth the hassle.  Plus, with the inks we got a Blintzsky’s our most pressing need wasn’t needed any more.  So, we decided to move on to the site of Mord’s fight to recover his Staff of Power.  One night, the first watch was visited by a reporter who went by “S”.  Most assumed he was Stradanya, come to mess with us again.  Kharn Intimidated him and he ran off into the night.  The next watch, a Gaston like oaf showed up with the body of “S”.  It was harder to get rid of him.  Eventually, Kaldain convinced him that he needed to be out in the night, saving damsels and he left.  The last watch missed the wolf watching us from a far.  We then got to the bridge where 4 vampire spawn(?) awaited us.  A couple of them, we fought in Valaki.  That was the fight where collateral damage burned down some buildings and put us on the wanted list.  Anyway, one said that “she” wanted to talk to one of us.  We assumed Standayna and Kharn but we stopped there.                          

Wednesday, 02 November 2022 21:11

We looked around the first room a bit more, hoping to find something useful.  Eventually, we had enough players and opened a door to the north.  The room had 3 more doors plus a trap door in the floor.  We opened that one and it was a very tight spiral staircase down.  Loki went down and met Mr. Fitzbottoms who was a talking dog.  He was one of the head toy designers.  Evidently, when Blitzsky’s pet money Piccolo went nuts and took over the factory, he hid down in his office.  Kharn came down as well and tried to extract something useful out of this dog but we got very little.  We did re-examine two more costumes upstairs.  Kaladin put on the Fireball one which sort of turned him into a low-power Flaming Sphere.  It did come with 60 feet of True Sight which might be useful.  Patrina just shoved the Owlbear one into her portable hole.  We moved on.  The next door led to the employee lounge.  It had two snake-stuffed animals which attacked, of course.  That fight bogged down as Brian created costumed characters to Kharn and Kaladin.  The snakes weren’t too tough although Brian was playing a little loose with the rules to make a ridiculous fight into something annoying as well.    

In a broom closet were two gnome employees that were taking a nap.  That led to a more annoying conversation that amused the DM but led to nothing useful.  They did say that Piccolo was likely in the tower with Blitzsky.  We did pick up a magical microwave although we should probably return it.  The next door led to a store room in which were two boxing marionettes, looking for a fight.  Ezra won initiative for a change and simply closed the door.  With boxing gloves for hands, they could not open it.  The next room north had a bunch of workbenches.  In the far corner, a barricade had been built.  An old man and his grandson were making a stand using toy pop guns.  Loki tried to convince them that we were not crazed toys but was a tough sell from a talking raccoon.  He rolled bad on his Persuasion roll.  Dead-looking Patrina fared no better.  But other than a couple pot shots, we just ignored them.

The next room had a big fancy door with two imposing wooden guards and letters on the titles on the floor.  “Jon puzzle”!  Unfortunately, the letters meant nothing to Loki who can’t read.  When Patrina came up, they were attacked by two stuffed spiders from the ceiling.  They were dispatched quick enough.  Rather than lose his rage, Kharn charged into the puzzle room.  The first tile was okay but the next triggered a tickle trap and the guards.  The trap did minimal damage on a failed save but more importantly allowed a free attack by the guards.  It was mostly chaos with extra attacks and infinite traps and such.  Kharn grabbed one of them and tried to pull it out of the room but it would not come out.  Around turn 2-3, Paul figured out the puzzle.  It was “is no fun” as in the company motto, “if it no Blitzsky, it no fun”.  However, the guards were in the way now.  Ezra managed to shield bash one aside and Patrina finished the pattern.  At that point, the guards reset and the door opened. 

This led to a circular room (tower?) with more toy stuff.  Nothing attacked for a change.  We did note that one of the cabinets had a jewelry box that was open and empty.  In the back was a small chamber with a lever labeled Up and Down.  We went up in two shifts and found Blintzsky lying on his bed.  When addressed, he whispered about the giant snake Piccolo had put on his chest.  We could not see it.  With some rolls, we decided it was in his head.  Eventually, Patrina cast Dispel Magic and he recovered.  He said that Piccolo had put on a magic tiara and gone crazy.  Casting major spells.  He was likely one level up.  We tried to get more information out of him but we didn’t get much.  Maybe we should have taken a short rest before the boss battle although hit points would not be the problem.  This first problem was that we all couldn’t fit in the elevator.  However, if Patrina got in her Portable Hole, Kharn got into his Flumph costume we could all fit, barely.  Duke Q and Ambrus were not in attendance.  We went up.

So, we faced a relatively small room.  The monkey was on the far side wearing the tiara.  On one side was an animated wooden baboon and on the other, an animated wooden knight.  Kaladin went first but had to use his action to open the portable hole.  He then moved up and used a Ki point to Dodge.  Loki went next and decided to roll the dice.  He used a bonus action to invoke Nature’s Veil and then invisibly move across the room and snatch the tiara.  Unfortunately, by avoiding the minions, he stepped on the carpet which animated as well.  It had surprise, which negated the disadvantage for Loki being invisible.  But it missed.  It did hit with a tail attack.  Luckily, this power did not have a concentration roll.  He was poised to make a grab for the tiara when the DM took a retroactive play action.  The monkey had portent dice so that missed grapple was actually a hit.  The rug wrapped around Loki’s head, blinding him and doing 20+ damage.  Since he couldn’t see where he was going, he spent his action trying to get the rug off.  It was a DC 16 strength roll.  Not a save or athletics, which he had both, but straight-up STR.  With a +2, it was a tough roll.  He rolled a 3+2=5, spent an inspiration and rerolled another 3.

Kharn spent his action getting out of the costume.  The monkey used one of its 3 legendary actions to cast a Mord’s Sword which carved him up.  (He’s not resistant to force damage.)  Patrina went and cast Force Wall around the monkey, figuring if we could isolate it, maybe we could take out the minions.  However, the monkey Counterspelled it with the exact roll it needed.  It then cast an 8th level Maze on Patrina.  That put her in a pocket dimension (no save) that required a 20 INT check to exit.  At least he lost his Mord Sword to do it.  The rug did a fear scream that affected Kharn and then did more damage to Loki.  Lastly, Ezra finally got to go.  He hit the knight, bashed it back and then moved up to get more friends into his protective aura.  So, at the end of round one, Loki and Patrina were neutralized and the group was down half our hit points.  Meanwhile, we had done almost nothing to them.  Sound familiar? Those legendary actions are tough to take because we feel so helpless as the villain went over and over.

Kaladin went first in round two.  He ran up and hit and then stunned the monkey.  Its portent would not save him this time.  We argued about whether stun broke concentration (Dan: He didn't realize that FG said that the concentration was broken.  It was only afterward when Patrina was still stuck in a maze that this came up.  After ruling the first blow didn't break concentration he rolled again on the second and THAT also broke concentration... which he negated through his portent.  At least he was out of portents at that point.)  and Brian ruled that it didn’t.  However, the next attack did drop it but he used a portent die to make that save.  Brian said it would take a full attack action and not an extra attack to pull off the tiara.  (It had tendrils into its head so it wasn’t easy.)  Loki got the chance to roll another 3 and then Kaladin used an inspiration to give him another roll.  An 11 this time.  Next was the baboon who critted Kaladin and dropped him.  Luckily, the stun was not concentration.  It then hit Kharn but he still stood.  Next was Kharn, who was standing next to the monkey.  But he was feared so his options were limited.  However, Ezra had moved up and his allies were immune to fear in his aura.  With a free hand, he made a STR roll and pulled the tiara off.  And like that, it was over.  One missed stunning fist save between victory and TPK.  It’s a crazy razor’s edge world at 10th level. 

The tiara offered fabulous power if Kharn would only put it on but fortunately, he was still next to Ezra.  He put it into the jewelry box that Loki was carrying and we gave it to Ezra.  We returned the monkey.  Blintzsky was grateful and offered to reward us.  When we asked for useful items such as see invisible or water breathing, he said he only made novelty items.  He did agree to make some disguise costumes so that we could walk around Valaki.  It would take several days to make one.  Not sure how long for many since most of us were wanted.  We (mostly Paul) picked and picked at trying to find anything useful in this place.  Eventually, we managed to get a couple things.  We got a gun that did decent damage.  Its range was 5/100 but it would give Ezra a ranged attack.  There was a jack in the box that Mord gave him for safekeeping.  We thought it was probably a magic jar but didn’t have to courage to open it.  Deferred.  What we did find was the spell book of the wizard who was in the tiara.  It had a few spells of each level all the way up to Maze at 8th.  And See Invisible, I think.  We decided to take a long rest before leaving on the ship.  So, we’ll probably spend the first few hours next time, asking more questions that will go unanswered and looking for more useless treasure.

Thursday, 20 October 2022 20:15

Now across the last river, we came upon the structure Kharn had sensed with his Commune with Nature.  It turned out to be a gazebo.  The players approached it with caution, as usual.  It appeared to be a relaxing place for tea and quiet contemplation.  Once close enough, we noted a magical glimmer that turned out to be a portal.  On the other side was a mansion in a pocket dimension.  Our hales were unanswered so Loki decided to ring the little bell on the table.  A wise wizard appeared.  Despite the “mad wizard” rumors, he seemed quite pleasant.  He served coffee and donuts.  Or his invisible staff did.  What followed was a big exchange of information.  His name was Mord, as in Mordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion.  He did fight and defeat Stradanya however he found himself still trapped and she came back a couple days later.  Since then, he has been laying low, working on long-term research on how better to defeat her.  We told him our ideas, she’s being supported/trapped by dark powers that prevent her from being killed.  Killing them first, possible with her help seemed reasonable to him.   “Good luck with that”

And then a whole bunch more stuff, some of which I’m sure I’ll forget.  We showed him her diary which he made a magical copy of.  We asked about the Amber Temple to the south where we’re led to believe these dark powers reside.  He thought it sounded dangerous.  We offer to fetch him anything that might speed up his 4–5-year research timeline.  Head of a gorgon, broom of the wicked witch, etc.  But he was only interested in information.  He did mention that he’d recently constructed a factory in the middle of the lake for the toy company.  But would reveal nothing about it.  That was a common theme.  Helpful but not really.  Confirming what we already suspected but not really adding much.  He did tell us that the giant gem in her castle we saw at our last dinner with her, was holding part of her soul and so destroying it might be helpful.  He had seen no evidence of a red dragon in the area, by the way.  Nor any knowledge on the Tree of Life.  Our requests for spells or items to aid in our noble quest were denied with his increasing annoyance.  He did say that his Staff of Power was lost during his fight and if we retrieved it, we could use that.  He gave us the command word.  It should be at the bottom of a 1000-foot falls near her castle.  That shot up to the top of our to-do list.  Eventually, we just had to stop and move on.

He did offer to loan us a boat to sail back across the river.  And to make us invisible since we feared the lake monster.  (But no information on it, of course.)  We reluctantly took him up on that.  The boat turned out to be a Folding Boat but the small one only held 4 mediums “comfortably” and the large was a bit large for this lake.  We sailed south and saw the island factory castle.  After some debate, we decided to take advantage of being invisible and go check it out.  We assume it was using enslaved child labor or some other evil.  Loki cast Pass Without Trace but that didn’t really do us any good.  There was only one door and once approached, it opened automatically with great fanfare.  Inside was a toy factory in disarray.  There were two bodies, a floating fluff, a giant stuffed pink octopus, and various toy making stuff.  An Arcana roll from Lady Petrina identified the fluff as a psychic Underdark dweller of generally peaceful intent.  We were slowed by role-playing the fact that we were all invisible but eventually Kharn moved up to examine a body.  He ended up slicing it open to prove it was not an elaborate doll.  And then a swarm of army ants emerged and attacked him.  About half of us were surprised.  How, I cannot fathom since every new building attacks us.  Initiative was rolled.

The swarm was formidable although it did not take half damage for a change.  It did carry Kharn away 15 feet a round without a grapple or anything.  And, of course, there was a second swarm in the other body.  (They turned out to be toys, too.)  And the pink octopus attacked as well with multiple attacks, a big reach, and a ton of hit points.  And free grapples, of course.  Ezra crit it with a 2nd level smite and barely dented it.  During all that, Loki was getting thoughts, via GM only chat, from someone claiming to be stuck in costume.  That turned out to be a gnome customer stuck in the fluff costume.  He used an action to free her so that reduced our targets by one.  And then the octopus unleashed an AOE blast.  All but Loki saved and he was instantly incapacitated with stuffing down his throat.  That was a little dicey since he was still invisible.  But he managed to save the next round.  I think only Patrina took any serious damage but we won without too much effort.

The gnome said she and others had come over on the tour.  She had gotten stuck in the costume when all hell broke loose.  Loki used his Detect Magic wand since BQ was under the weather but it didn’t do much good.  All kinds of things were magical in here.  What we needed was a Wand of Detect Useful Magic.  Kharn grabbed the costume and put it on.  Basically, it polymorphed you into a flying fluff.  But you had to attack with its meager attack and it only moved 30 so not that useful.  Whether it had telepathy or not was yet to be proven.  It’s probably more useful as an out-of-combat thing.  Maybe to allow a non-sneaker to sneak? We also found a Magic 8 ball.  We stopped there with the rest of the factory to investigate.  The gnome was unsure how many were on the tour and there may be employees to rescue as well.  And a puppet master at the end? Or maybe it was just a magical mishap.  Next time.  Assuming we survive, I think we were going to swing by the Tree of Life again and then back to Valaki.  I suspect the promise of a Staff of Power will divert/delay any Valaki regime-changing plans.                                                                     

Sunday, 02 October 2022 12:08

We started as we ended, surrounded by Dire Wolves and Wolf Spirit Swarms with a legendary Fog Giant lurking in a fog cloud.  The only change was that the battered wizard was replaced by a fresh ranger due to player attendance.  For the most part, the wolves continued to attack who they were attacking last time.  With the tight quarters and the swarms on top of people, it was hard to see and target.  When the Giant finally went, he crit and then hit Loki.  He took 70 hit points and was down to 12 before he ever even got a chance to act.  So much for being fresh.  Brian critted 3 times in that first round at which point we had very little chance of surviving.  Duke Q only survived long enough to get in one action since he got racked last time.  Loki disengaged and fled into the forest. 

So, we fought on.  Kharn beat on Dire Wolves recklessly against which he at least did full damage.  The Swarms were immune to cold and resistant to weapons so he did less than half damage to them.  Kaladin could make his hands a fire attack, thus getting full damage, so he worked on those.  We found that a Swarm formed each time 4 Dire Wolves were killed.  Loki used his bonus action to Hide using his cloak.  That diminished his damage output but kept him alive.  The Giant spent an action casting Fly and then came after Kaladin.  The Monk fought bravely, hoping for a successful stun attack but to no avail.  Unfortunately, his usual hit and fly tactics would not work against a Giant with reach, flying 60.  Kharn got a berry into Duke Q and they fought Dire Wolves.  One of the Swarms tried to find Loki but he was rolling just enough on his Stealth roll to evade it.  So, much like the fight against the demons, we were whittling down the minions but doing nothing against the villain.  Another invisible flying legendary villain, by the way.

So, then Kaladin finally went down.  Plummeting to the earth with an automatic death fail.  Loki rushed to his aid, once again hiding from the Giant.  The Giant then moved 60 and exactly got into hand to hand with Kharn.  He survived the first hit but not the second.  At that point, we had 2 players with 1 hit point, 1 with 0, and 1 with 12.  Parley? At the other players' insistence, Duke Q started to talk.  He congratulated the Giant on his excellent fighting prowess and suggested we simply go our separate ways as equal forces.  That, of course, was mostly a bluff since he’d been barely touched and we were mostly dead.  However, we did take out 15 of his 16 Dire Wolves.  As payment, he demanded both Duke Q’s and Kharn’s great swords, being a great sword user himself.  Q told him that we needed the frost brand if we were ever to defeat Strahdanya.  That did not move him however he did ask for a counteroffer.  After the email exchange about miscellaneous magic items that we might have forgotten about, people started offering their “junk”.  However, Kharn’s useless Wand of Conducting was argued to be of actual interest to a Giant.  A magic stick that made music.  A poor Persuasion roll was inspired into a better roll and the deal was made.  We traded Duke Q’s backup weapon and a magic item we’d never use, for our lives.  A fair trade.  Thus ended another ass-kicking encounter.

As we took a short rest, we debated following him so that we could avenge our loss (after a long rest and with a bigger party).  But since he was flying, we’d be tracking a single Dire Wolf which seemed highly unlikely.  And the last thing we wanted was to find him too early.  So, we quickly gave up on that idea.  We pressed on, reaching a river feeding into the lake.  The current was a little too swift to swim (67% on a d100), despite two swimmers, a flyer, and a super athlete in the party.  We decided to have Kaladin fly a rope across the chasm.  Brian wanted a “rope skill” roll and opened it up for what DnD skill that might be.  While suggestions were thrown about, Dan created a Rope Use skill on his character sheet and rolled an 18.  (The old Captain Kirk cheater method.)  Brian let that stand but demanded a similar roll to untie the superior knot and save the rope.  He rolled a 17 and we moved on.

We came across a bigger, steeper river just before nightfall.  We took a long rest.  Kharn did his Commune with Nature ritual and could sense a small hut on the other side.  And a lower-than-normal population of fish and animals in the area.  In the morning, we were told it was too far across to use the rope this time.  We almost swam in the lake to get around but people were worried about that Lake Demon.  It would be a 30-minute swim.  We chose to go upstream to look for a better place to cross.  It was hilly and rocky so we had to do some climbing.  But again, Loki had a climb speed, Kaladin could fly, DQ could Levitate and Kharn has a +many climbing roll.  So, no problem except that we passed a cave along the way. 

From it, 11 Swarms of Bats emerged and attacked.  Again, we were doing half damage but we didn’t have too much trouble.  Once half were dispersed, they went back into the cave.  Meanwhile, Kharn who was fighting in the cave entrance for better footing thought he heard something big and clawed in there.  Kaladin noticed that the stone was unnaturally flattened, as if it had been melted by great heat.  And at the end, Loki noticed claw scrapes at the entrance as if something had been climbing out of it for decades.  So, likely a Red Dragon.  We debated stopping there so that we could go in with a fuller party, however, a good Arcana roll from our Dragonborne revealed that based on the claw width, we’re talking about a massive (i.e. ancient) sized Dragon.  We decided to run away (quietly) like little girls and move on.  So, yet another unbeatable foe.  When we first arrived in this realm, Kharn warned us to stay on the road and avoid the wilderness.  After a legendary Fog Giant and an Ancient Red Dragon, it appears he was right.  I think we stopped there.  I don’t remember if we crossed the river or not.  We did not level up but we didn’t really do anything either.        

Saturday, 24 September 2022 00:05

This session began with a reduced cast.  The thief, ranger, and paladin had real-life events to deal with.  Slackards!  Poof!  They never existed in our little slice of an alternate reality.  PMS (player missing syndrome erupted.

We dug a few and gold from the magical bonfires that the devil detectives had turned into upon death. We then made our way to the Valaki encampment, only to get challenged by the guards. They were alert due to the camp being attacked by a massive tiger. Apparently, an undead hunter (who’s camp/tower we had found earlier) had sicked his pet tiger onto the gypsy camp and it had done some damage before it was slain. I am unclear how many, if any, died but they did express appreciation for how nice the fur coat was.  We idled a few minutes testing if this was a magical beast or were-beast but all clues pointed to it being a normal, if large, animal.

Later we headed off to find the Mad Wizard on the other side of the lake. We immediately got distracted by a sign from Blynsky’s Toys stating it was giving tours of the lake. Over this poster was a sign saying it was closed due to issues. We guessed the issues involved a sea monster with aspirations to godhood. The one that we had fought before when it tried to eat the ungrateful smart aleck gypsy girl.

So, the barbarian did some rituals to allow him to commune with nature and found there was an island a few miles off. We talked about exploring it but couldn’t think of a reasonable way to bring the entire party. Ideas like shoving everyone into the portable hole and having the monk (me) fly over prolificated but the cowards were concerned over minor issues such as suffocation.  Obviously, the real men who knew how to take a few teeny risks were out this night.  Back to finding the wizard! We shortly found a lone tree in a clearing surrounded by ravens watching it. The barbarian did another ritual to speak with animals and we found out it was a tree of life. Or perhaps THE tree of life. It wasn’t clear. He talked to a few other animals but got nothing more relevant except animal type stream of thoughts.

Patrina volunteered to go and explore the tree, apparently wanting to be a real girl. Or come to life, despite the fact this would then mean she couldn’t live in her hole or create more wine. She tried communing with it, then communed with spirits. The barbarian communed with nature. I thought I was surrounded by hippies. Nevertheless, he discovered that the tree was actually two trees merged together with one of them dormant. We didn't get anything more out of the experience, so we decided to leave and maybe come back later when we had a better clue on how to proceed.

Off to see the wizard again!  We had barely resumed our journey when we heard a hunting horn throughout our journey. We also found we were being stalked by a giant wolf.  Perhaps invisible, since we only saw indirect signs it was there. Soon we found ourselves surrounded by a giant with more than ten dire wolves. He demanded to eat Lord Q in order to let us go. Naturally, we found this reasonable but decided to kill him anyway. Knowing Patrina would be out next game we initiated combat so she could get one attack out. Patrina did some sort of sickening cloud zone and we fought for one round, then 2, then almost 3, killed several wolves, and found the giant was planting fog banks around us to obstruct our vision.   The dead wolves formed ghost wolves that in turn merged and formed a swarm of wolf spirits.  The giant is pulling out legendary actions, so it's a decent-sized villain.

Before the combat, aside from some bluster, we found that the giant’s daughters had been kidnapped by Baba Lisaga. Telling him we killed her didn’t buy any goodwill, but we found that his daughter's name coincidentally matched our horses, Petunia and Daisy. A clue!  A clue no one understood but a clue nonetheless.

Saturday, 17 September 2022 18:35

We started with some pointless discussions with the infernal police, investigating the destruction of the Pit Fiend we killed weeks prior.  (Actually, the first step was pleading for a short rest from last time.  Which was granted, not that it did much good.)  The Ranger played dumb but the Paladin with the honest face admitted to helping him return to his home plain.  However, evidently, he never got there.  As we well know, no one can leave this realm so we suggested they talk to Strahdanya.  She makes the rules around here.  To no avail.  We also questioned their authority.  “Where are your stinking badges?” As bad as this place is, it is not a plane of hell.  She claimed her authority came from the top but we suggested that Strahdanya was the authority here.  With dreams of them fighting it out.  They were unimpressed.  Lastly, we pointed out that they were now as trapped in this land as we were and perhaps their efforts should be focused on that and not us.  Shut it.  They demanded we drop our weapons and/or offensive implements and “come along quietly”.  The Warlock offered to comply if they first returned to their native plane to prove they were not as trapped as us.  No one on either side was going to go for that.  With all that discussion out of the way, it was time for initiative.

The Rogue went first and hesitated to attack until the Paladin assured him that he had detected them as big-time evil (Dan: I am not sure why he doubted that demons were evil.).  He attacked but without his sneak attack dice, did not do much.  They had a charm and a command plus bows that did 50+ points per hit plus a poison save.  2-3 shots a round.  The head one had Greater Invisibility and eventually turned incorporeal.  But their biggest power was probably their flight.  The Ranger nearly got one shotted.  Our Wizard put one of the flying ones into a Force Wall bubble but attempted to do so in secret so they wouldn’t know to break her concentration.  About the only ones that were confused by this ploy were the players.  Since she was untouchable and the main one was invisible, most of the fire went on the third.  She was taken out.  Once she was out, there wasn’t much for us to do.  The main one had put a compel on our Wizard.  (Dan: Somewhere in here I stunned one of the demons, though it took a few attempts and everyone dogpiled it when it was down).  We assumed that was the reason she was attacking her and she was able to hit despite the incorporeal.  It turns out, the incorporeal only affected weapons and not spells (Dan: This was confusing since by level 5-6 most classes have their weapons count as magic weapons, and they still didn't work).  But we didn’t realize that.  The main one grabbed the body, flew up to the other, hitting the Wizard, and dropped her Force Wall along the way, and handed her over.  That one healed the other one and placed her back down on the wagon.  And then flew up.  The Rogue managed to acrobatically climb a tree to get at her but missed.  The melee guys beat on the one that was out and put her way out since they couldn’t reach the flying one.  The main one was still untouchable and raining destruction from above.   

When the second also flew up beyond the Ranger’s guns, our options were few.  The Barbarian switched to a long bow but their bows could outreach his strong bow.  The Wizard was kept up by some Lay on Hands and summoned a Beholder Kin.  The Warlock had a long ranged cantrip which was soon out ranged and Paladin and the Rogue were about left out.  However, the Monk used his Step of the Winds to get an extra move and with his high flight speed was able to reach her.  And managed to stun her.  (We were stunned.)  (Dan: This also took most of my ki points, their saves were high and it took a few tries.)There was some debate as to whether she would instantly plummet the 160+ feet.  Since she was using wings that had to flap and had no hover speed, she fell, taking like 15d6.  And she was still not out.  But now she was stunned and more importantly, on the ground so the idle melee guys pounded her into oblivion.  Their wagon was searched before it was consumed by the fire of the first body but it was in fact the old wagon we found when we first fought.  At this point, the remaining one could fly around and plug us with arrows while staying invisible.  And we could take pot shots as best we could and heal.  But Wade cut short that grind and had her fly off.  So, one greater devil flying around to add to the woes of the land, plus two more devils that will reincarnate as something or someone eventually.  All and all, another unsatisfying end to a fight.        

We then started debating our next course of action, again.  We were mostly settled on finding the mad wizard but how.  No one was keen on the boat route without at least a Water Breathing spell.  The Wizard could cast it but she didn’t know it.  And we’ve seen no signs of a means of buying one.  Our best bet might be the mad wizard, ironically.  A See Invisible for all would also be handy for the end game.  Evidently, we’ve advanced from “everything has damage resistance” to “everything has greater invisibility (and magic resistance)”.  Paul had to sign off first.  Brian asked for his vote which was park the cart with the Vistani south of Valaki and then travel overland to the east of the lake.  No one could give a compelling reason not to do that so we may end up doing that.  Sometimes it’s easier to achieve a no veto than a consensus.  We storyboarded the trip to the Vistani and a long rest along the way.  We’ll start from there next time.  Assuming we don’t get waylaid by a lost kitten in Valaki. 

Sunday, 21 August 2022 15:53

We started where we ended, at the top of the tower.  We decided, at the very least, to check to see if the undead had been put to rest and check in on the dragon spirit.  We searched through the castle but found nothing of interest or value.  The dragon was indeed gone as were everyone else.  We retrieved the +2 great sword which Baron Q elected to take.  It costs him a shield but once he made it his pact weapon, he could use it with CHR.  Several times, we tried to storyboard the search but Brian won’t quite let us.  We encountered one more trap but no treasure or monsters.  We talked about making this our base someday and decided to bury the bones.  So, we spent the remains of the day doing that, got a long rest, had a morning ceremony and headed out.  But to where? We had at least 4 options.  Back to Valaki to tie up loose ends and perhaps orchestrate another regime change.  South to the Amber Temple that Sir Godfrey mentioned.  North to the Cave of Fear to face a version of Strahdanya and finish Loki’s quest.  Or back to Kresk to do more research on the dark powers in play.  We decided not to decide and head to the crossroads.

At that crossroads, we found Vasilli waiting for us.  Ambrus started the talking since he missed his stealth roll but others started coming up.  The usual questions/accusations.  But once Ezra got close enough, he used his Detect Evil power.  As usual, he could not get a read on him however his horse did detect as evil.  On closer inspection, the horse’s hooves seemed to be smoldering.  He approached the horse in a threatening manner and Vasilli interposed.  Who started what first is up for debate but combat ensued.  He attempted a Fog Cloud but Baron Q Counterspelled it.  The vampire started using his legendary actions to grab and fling heroes across the board.  No rolls needed.  Loki dashed invisibly into his tent and felt the psychic attack of Strahdanya’s second in command.  Ranadin.  But he couldn’t find him.  He did warn the rest.  Strahadanya got on her horse and they went into the Astral Plane where we could not see or touch them.  And continued to attack.  Ranadin revealed himself and most targeted him.  However, after a round where we were getting beaten (as usual), Ranadin was being scratched and Strahdanya was untouchable, Loki called for a parley.  There just was no point in attacking them together.  Eventually, everyone stood down.  She revealed that Vasilli was in fact Strahadanya as we already knew.  We tried to talk to her about the higher evil powers in play in this land but she was not interested.  Basically, she was just messing with us and left.  Ranadin disappeared also and the empty tent was left. 

We debated where we should go and eventually Valaki got the most support.  Whether it was for regime change, loose ends or both, was still unresolved.  Brian reminded us that the wizard that defeated the vampire a year ago, supposedly went mad and lived in the forest north of the lake, north of Valaki.  (She came back though.)  Many remembered the fight with the wizard but none of the players remembered that he lived through it.  (Dan: We had all gotten the idea that the rebellion had taken place decades or more ago AND the wizards and his followers had been defeated.  Surprise!  He live AND won!) Anyway, the plan was to go there and maybe deal with the Lake Abboleth along the way now that the Paladin had some protections from charms.  Rather than camp at her camp, we pressed on.  We should have at least taken a short rest there but did not.  Retroactive play? Before reaching the bridge, we passed the location of our fight with the demon where we saw yellow tape across the road.  Kaladin said it said “Police Investigation.  Do Not Cross” in infernal.  There were 3 women who didn’t look Barovian looking around.  Evidently, a Pit Fiend had been destroyed and they were looking into it.  The players tried to be vague but it was evident soon enough that we were the guilty party.  Our point about him being returned to his native plane didn’t hold water as they said he never returned.  Combat was about to start but we were at the end of the night so we stopped there.  Ezra and Baron Q were down significant hit points from the previous fight but we’re most full up otherwise.      

Monday, 25 July 2022 12:41

We started with the usual debate.  To short rest or long rest.  As always, some of us were in good shape and some were on death’s door.  Eventually, we agreed to take a short rest, figuring if this castle was anything like the other buildings we’ve had to clear, it was going to take multiple rests to get through.  Better to delay the long rest for when we really needed it.  The only one that really got screwed by that was Ezra who used up almost all of his spell slots (i.e., smites) last time.  And despite using all his hit dice, wasn’t back to full.  He said he’d stay in the back and let someone else do the heavy hitting.  Luckily a fully refreshed Kharn was in attendance.  We slowly finished going through the first floor.  We had Fantasy Grounds issues with updates/add-ons and had to restart twice.  We started to search the second floor and noticed something moving in another fireplace.  This time a soot dragon spirit flew out.  Since that last one worked out okay, we followed this one.  It went up to the 3rd floor as well and into a large meeting room.  The roof had collapsed in the middle part and it was difficult terrain.  The spirit landed on the shoulder of a figure in plate, sitting on a throne.  It rose and addressed us.

Ezra turned on his Channel Divinity: Sacred Weapon power and stepped up to talk to it.  (So much for staying in the back.)  Once again, we tried to convince him we were there to help.  He said that Stradhanya had killed him and all his knights and destroyed his life’s work.  He was angry.  It didn’t take Lady P’s commune with spirits powers to conclude he was the source of the problem.  We attempted to explain that we hated Stradhanya too and were working to defeat her.  But there was a twist.  This guy wanted to see her suffer, not killed.  We attempted to adjust our arguments, asking him how to defeat her, but he started to attack.  8 additional spirit knights manifested around the room.  Ambrus went first, weaved through traffic to get next to an ally, and attacked a knight with a sneak attack.  The boss went next.  He hit Ezra twice and missed once and knocked him out.  Thanks for coming.  He did 6d6+16 per hit with 3 swings.  His to hit was like +15.  So basically, he could take one of us out each round all by himself.  Run away? Can we run away?

Loki went next and filled the boss with lead.  It didn’t make a dent.  Most of the knights went next.  They did two attacks of 1d8+8 and had a decent to hit themselves.  So, they were no slouches and we were surrounded by them.  We started to run.  Kharn picked up Ezra, took some opportunity attacks and headed for the stairs.  He was impeded by the difficult terrain.  Ambrus got beat up by the knights but made it to a window.  He Misty Stepped down, fell the remaining 10 feet, and crawled to the horses with one hit point left.  Lady P saved many lives by casting a Slow.  All 6 in the area missed their saves including the boss.  Loki ignored the terrain with a Ranger power he had picked up at 8th and blew by everyone.  Baron Q moved as best he could but got cut down in the hallway.  Not only did the knights ignore the terrain, they ignored the walls.  Kharn and Ezra made it to the stairs.  Lady P got a good berry into the Baron but couldn’t make it to the stairs.  So, she opened the nearest door and found 6 more skeletons sitting around a table.  Baron Q used his Levitation to get through the hole in the ceiling and onto the roof.  So, everyone made it out except Lady P who was knocked out.  But no one knew that not that they could have helped her anyway. It’s worth noting that all this damage was done by the knights and thanks to the Slow, the boss never got to attack again.

The ghosts did not follow.  We had to take a long rest before we could do anything so we delayed that debate and just set up camp.  Meanwhile, Lady P awoke in a bed, and recovered after a long rest.  The head skeleton introduced himself as Sir Godfrey.  He and his knights had also been slain but they had not been revived by the first guy’s anger.  He said that things were okay until recently when Baba Lasoga and her twig army had attacked and stolen the head of Argonvast.  The very same skull we had attached to the wagon.  He thought that if the skull was recovered and placed among the bones at the top of the highest tower, all could be set to rights.  (Evidently, we had opened the wrong door first.  Although, we were led astray by the dragon spirit which had been helpful the last time.)  She also asked questions about Stradhanya.  Evidently, she had been killed several times before, including last year, but kept coming back due to her deal with a Dark Power.  So, killing her again wouldn’t do any good.  He thought that she had to be killed and then the Dark Power defeated or the other way around.  He did not know which.  He did think that answers might lie at the Amber Temple in the southern mountains.  I think that was next on our list of things to do.  She thanked him, got her gear together, and walked outside.  Ezra was on guard duty and questioned her with suspicion.  Eventually, everyone else awoke and there was much rejoicing.   

So, well rested and reunited, we headed around back to the tower.  Rather than go back into the castle, we used 100 feet of rope and climbed to the roof.  Kharn had +13 to his roll and simply strapped the skull to his back.  Everyone else made it up okay.  Once on the roof, we could see a door into the tower.  (We thought we were climbing to the top but evidently not.)  Two of the spirit knights shot arrows from above.  Loki and Baron Q returned fire as Ambrus used a Knock spell to open the barred door.  (And then Jon logged out.)  The spiral stairs went down 3 levels to the chapel and up to the tower.  Ezra fell through once and landed one spiral down.  The archers were encountered coming down and we could hear more coming up.  But soon enough, Kharn got to the bones.  Once placed, the dragon spirit arose and cast a bright light from the tower.  The knights turned to dust and it was all over.  We stopped there.  We were told that the Beacon of Hope was lit and anyone that opposes the vampire in the land would get +1 AC and +1 to saves.  Baron Q received the holy symbol of the Raven Queen as it appeared in his hands.  Effects to be revealed later.  It also completed his personal quest, granting him an extra feat.  Sir not appearing, Kaladin also completed his quest and earned an extra feat. (Dan: I was moving.  This isn't the first time the subject of a personal quest was gone for the completion of his personal quest.  Seems to happen a lot.)   (I know we constantly talk about setting up a base somewhere.  Maybe here.  It’s big, defensible, more or less centrally located and the Beacon needs defending.  As if we ever have a chance to stop.)  We made 10th level.  Most rolled hit dice and leveled up.         

Could we have survived that fight with a long rest and a Kaladin? That is debatable.  I think not.  Ezra would have stood one more round which means a round of attacks for him and Kharn.  But that wasn’t going to be near enough.  Those knights nearly killed us all by themselves.  Maybe just them or just him but not both at the same time.  Kaladin’s presence might have helped Lady P escape assuming he could carry her through the roof.  But frankly, her getting left behind is the only thing that went right.  If she had gotten away as well, our only known course would have been to try again.  We would have not gone into the room with Sir Godfrey and learned what needed to be done.  It was one of those fights that we could not win by fighting.  We had to find a way around it and I’m not sure we would have.  I would have advocated for visiting the dragon spirit again and demanded more advice.  We can’t defeat that guy.  What else have you got? But it worked out as unsatisfying as it was to have to run away.  But that’s happened multiple times in this module.  How we’re supposed to defeat the vampire’s super minions, let alone her, it’s hard to imagine.  

Monday, 11 July 2022 19:11

There were 3-man sized spider cocoons in the room.  Loki used his Survival skills to “skin” the webs off with minimal damage to anything inside.  However, the adventurers inside were long dead.  Of note, they were dressed as outsiders and not Barovians.  We started down the “how did they get in and maybe we can get out the same way” path but Brian cut that short and told us to “move along”.  Each had a magic item though.  Boots, short sword and wand which were carried by Loki, Ambrus and Lady P respectively until we could spare the time to Identify them.  We started the slow process of listening, searching, sneaking and opening doors but that got boring pretty fast and Ezra just started opening doors.  We went through the grand entrance hall and ended up in the dragon’s den.  It, like everything else, had been thoroughly trashed.  The only thing of note in there, other than the portraits of noble looking knights which had been defaced, was an upright coffin.  However, on the way to searching it, Ambrus noticed a small ember in the fireplace.  On closer inspection, it was moving, gathering tiny piles of ash and consuming it.  Loki decided to feed it a piece of furniture kindling to see what would happen.  With that, it grew a bit and started to look like an incorporeal elemental ice fire dragon spirit.  Kaladin stepped up and addressed it in Draconic.  At this point, it started to fly away.

Kaladin followed it and Loki followed him.  Reluctantly, the rest followed suit as it headed up two levels.  By the time it had reached a trashed study, it was a gargantuan incorporeal elemental ice fire dragon spirit that looked like Argon.  It spoke common.  It was indeed the spirit of Argon, trapped in this barely existing state for 100s of years.  He said that there was much anger and unrest in the castle.  (Dan: Grandpa Argon came off as a bit impersonal.  He didn't know Kaladin and when told he was his descendent he brushed it off as "who can keep track of the whelps".  This is in contrast to the visions previously given both fake and probably genuine that were more personal.  So a bit underwhelming after all the time it took to get there.)  We offered to help and he said if we could find and solve the corruption, maybe that would help.  Unfortunately, he could offer no help as to where to look and no help to keep the spirits of the slayed knights from attacking us even though we were there to help.  About then, the recovered short sword appeared in Ambrus’s hand and he was compelled to attack.  He got top initiative and charged, doing massive backstab damage.  Which did nothing to the spirit other than amuse/annoy him.  Loki tried to grab him but his Acrobatics was too high.  Kaladin hit him with several subdual blows but he saved on each stunning blow.  Lady P tried to put a sphere around him but he saved.  Ezra attacked and then shield bashed him prone.  Once prone he grappled him with advantage, which probably wasn’t legal.  Lastly, Baron Q tried to kick the sword free but could not best his Acrobatics either.  Who knew Ambrus was so formidable? He went next.  He Misty Stepped away and attacked again.  Thankfully, this time, he saved against the sword.  The Wizard did not have a Remove Curse memorized so the sword was put in the Portable Hole.  Other than amuse Brian and waste a bunch of time and resources; we were back on track.

We went back to the den to start our search.  We took a short rest first to Identify the items.  Boots of Misty Step (once per short rest) which went to Ezra and Wand of Detect Magic which went to usually attending Loki.  The coffin was just a wine rack.  Nothing of interest was found until we came upon a chapel off the dining hall.  In there were three undead knights.  Revenants.  Ambrus went first and attempted to parlay but it didn’t seem to be working.  He moved up, just behind Ezra, and delayed to attack if attacked.  Kaladin did much the same.  Loki went and started firing, missing twice.  Then they went.  Since Ezra was in front, they all attacked him.  Two attacks per, with +10 to hit a 3d10+ damage.  He went from full to almost out.  The room was small and the pillars in it made moving and seeing difficult.  Their AC was low but they had massive hit points.  Most everyone hit the first one but it survived the round.  Somehow Ezra did too.  He used new boots to get out of there, did all his Lay on Hands, and then charged back in.  Lady P cast Greater Invisibility on Loki who piled on the damage.  (Not as much as the Paladin with the Holy Avenger.)  Without our Barbarian hit point buffer, Ambrus and Baron Q ended up in the fray.

It was quite a fight.  We were doing tons of damage but they were taking it.  However, a round after we finally took out Reverent 1, he stood up with 20 regenerated hit points.  One round, Loki finished off two of them and since they went next on the order, they just stood up.  Ezra, Ambrus, and Baron Q all went down multiple times.  Lady P fired a radiant Fireball, hitting all 3 of them plus Ambrus, Baron Q, and invisible Loki.  Loki saved for half, recently revived but still prone Ambrus evaded for none but Baron Q took a bunch.  And none of them went out and when they were knocked out, they still got up.  Eventually, we figured it took fire damage while they were at 0 to stop them and turn them to dust.  All and all, we used 5 Good Berries and the 3 of them walked away with 1 berry hit point.  The other 3 came away relatively unharmed.  We did a quick search and found nothing.  Lady P, after getting yelled at by Ambrus for more friendly fire damage, did her commune with spirits thing.  She could sense a change but the corruption was still there.  We limped back to the den for a long rest and stopped there.  I think we’re mostly through the 1st floor. 

Saturday, 25 June 2022 20:24

We continued on to Krusk.  Loki got attacked by a Mimic, disguised as a puddle of mud in the middle of the road.   He took some damage.  Several players moved up but since Loki is usually scouting ahead, they were too far back to help.  But when he went, he blasted it away in one round.  (Dan: I think it was a grey ooze actually.  It was dead before it got to my turn.)  We took a long rest, later that day, with nothing happening.  The next day, we pulled into Krusk.  We went straight to the abbey on the hill in the center of town.  The kids were handed over for cleaning, food and put down for the night.  Lady P made a big Arcana check and came up with the right words and sequence to remove the werewolf curse with a Greater Restoration now that we were on holy ground.  It turns out, the now cured enemy was from Krusk so she went home.  Unfortunately, we were not so lucky with the kids.  Most were from Valaki and none from Krusk.  Plus, most were from somewhere that we could not return them to.  E.g. the burned-down orphanage.  In total, we thought we could return 3.  The rest were left in the care of Irena.  There were some bad persuasion rolls to complicate matters but we made it out of town and back on the road.

So, one belonged to the booksellers in the city, one to the servants of the now-deposed mayor of the city, and one was Vistani.  Since only Lady P was unknown to Valaki, she went in alone with the first two.  The guards gave her a bunch of hassles about the proper paperwork but her scribe skills were able to forge the right forms easily enough.  The girl’s grandfather was happy to have her back however the other girl was not to be so simple.  Evidently, when the new regime took over, they publicly executed the old regime including their entire household staff.  (Worse severance package, ever.)  So, she was now an orphan as well.  Lady P took her to the church and discovered the 10-year-old altar boy we left in charge was still in charge, eagerly awaiting the return of Ezra and his friends with a new priest.  She basically talked him into taking her on to help him.  The next morning, she left a 10- and 12-year-old in charge.  She stopped in the magic shop and spent all her money on material components for her new high-level spells.  Meanwhile, the rest went to the Vistani camp.  Kharn finally picked up his strong longbow.  The girl was returned and we were hailed as heroes again.  This time, no one betrayed us.  The next morning, Lady P went back into the city to buy Ezra enough diamonds to cast Revivify.  She also bought some magic inks and checked out the book seller’s books.  Turns out, he was more of a bookmaker and the few books he had for sale were unremarkable.  She managed to make it back out and we got back on the road.

On to Argonvast, keep of Kaladin’s long-dead grandfather silver dragon.  The first thing to deal with was the dragon statue in the courtyard, guarding the front door.  Lots of time and skills yielded the following.  We were pretty sure it would turn to the front door and breathe cold if the door was opened incorrectly.  Several avoided the door and headed to the collapsed tower to the right.  Ironically, Baron Q triggered the trap anyway however the attack was just a cool breeze after all the years.  We could see spider webs and man-sized cocoons inside.  We decided to try to trigger the encounter while still outside, thus creating a choke point so that only one or two could come at us at a time.  That did not work.  They came out of the rubble, over the walls, etc., and surrounded us in waves.  They just kept showing up on the combat tracker.  (Dan:  It was funny, it would almost be my turn and 3 spiders would pop up before I could go.  This happened three times.) We blasted them pretty well and their attack bonus was poor. (Dan: In a way it was refreshing.  We have gotten used to everything having a +12 to hit.  It was nice to have an AC make a difference for once.)  Lady P did a bunch of AOE damage but we suffered some friendly fire because of it.  In the end, we figure she did more damage to us than the spiders.  The funniest was when Kharn told her to go ahead with her fireball, being resistant to fire from his sword.  But she subbed out fire for radiant which he was not resistant.  The rounds were long but the fight only lasted 2-3 rounds.  Some damage was taken and spells used but no short rest was needed.  (Dan: There were so many spiders that we couldn't understand what they had been surviving on.  We joked they had been hibernating until we arrived.)  Next time, we’ll start searching.   

Saturday, 25 June 2022 11:49

People leveled up to 9th as they trickled in so it was a slow start.  We questioned the rescued kid.  Evidently, he and 7 others of varying ages were being kept in cages in the next room.  They were being forced to fight one another to determine which was strong enough to withstand the “gift” of the werewolf curse.  As we learned later, they are from various parts of the land which will make returning them much harder.  I.e. some were from Valaki, some were from the orphanage that has since burned down, some from Barovia, and some had been sold to Granny Momo, etc.  The surviving werewolf was also questioned and she seemed reasonably cooperative.  The vampire huntress NPC in particular was eager to off her.  Lady Patrina attempted to do a Remove Curse on the two that had been bitten and not saved.  I think we thought it was Baron Q and Karn or the NPC.  Regardless, it didn’t work.  The evil magic in this land is too strong.  A couple of rolls revealed that it probably needed to be done on holy ground.  The closest was back to Krusk.  It seemed like we had until the next full moon which was about a week.  Once the werewolf heard that we might be able to cure her, she was on board.

We uncaged the kids and gave each a Good Berry to boost their strength for the journey back to the tower to get our wagon.  We took a short rest.  A bunch of searching found nothing of interest or value except a pile of treasure around an altar of the Druid Huntress god.  The one we just rescued.  Our captive said they avoided it so we decided to do so as well.  This place has convinced us not to trust a “big pile of treasure”.  We searched the bodies and burned them.  We made it back to the tower and did a bit more searching.  Nothing was found except a trap we avoided and that suit of armor.  Kharn managed to carry it outside where it was detected as magic.  Lady P Identified it as Animated Armor but did not get the command word.  Eventually, Brian gave us INT rolls to remember the word on the door we messed with 3 months ago.  Kazan? It seems to be a slightly more useful Unseen Servant but it’ll take some time to mess with. 

We took a long rest and headed back on the road in the morning.  The kids were in Kharn’s wagon and Esmeralda brought hers as well.  We encountered a huge mist creature on the road.  The fight started but in round two, the NPC put it into a Force Cage and we simply went around.  After the fact, Brian admitted that that shouldn’t have worked.  I doubt we’ll go back.  So, we’re heading back to Krusk with a load of more problems for Irena.    (Dan: This felt pretty pointless.  I wasn't sure if we wouldn't have simply gone around it if we could have.  Brian made a joke if we wanted to redo the encounter and naturally no one did.  You could say all random encounters are pointless but this one felt more so.)

Monday, 30 May 2022 06:54

We started with a discussion about whether we could put Petrina, who doesn’t need to breathe, into her portable hole so that she can finally do the Identifies that we’ve been trying to do for several games while we tracked the werewolves.  Eventually, thankful, Brian just cut that discussion short and allowed that to happen while we waited for more players to show up.  The breastplate was +1 and enchanted so that it never gets dirty.  It was given to Baron Q.  (Fortunately, the Paladins were not in attendance to object to the morals of said action.  If we find this vampire hunter alive or not evilly insane, we can just give it back to him.)  The second scroll was something Cleric y but I can’t recall what.  The moving scale mail, we left alone.  There were also vials of antitoxin and bottles of holy water.  Plus, various spikes and silver bolts.  All was distributed as those in attendance thought best.  We next started tracking.  As feared, the legendary werewolf was much too difficult to track however he was traveling with a bunch of wolves and people and those were trackable.  Loki managed a couple of rolls and we arrived at a cave.  The entrance looked like the maw of a giant wolf.  “This must be the place.”  Loki cast Pass Without Trace and snuck into the cave.  Ahead were two guards up on a slight rise, staring right at him.  So much for stealth.  Initiative.  Loki started firing.

The werewolves were much too tough to one shot so they successfully raised the alarm.  Frankly, we were better off fighting near the exit anyway.  Paul and Dave arrived just in time to participate.  The first couple rounds, we had the upper hand and they started falling back.  But then several more came forward from the darkness behind them along with a bunch of wolves.  Momentum quickly swung until the NPC went.  She let loose a Fireball and wiped out all the wolves and a werewolf.  By the end of that round, there were no bad guys in view.  But then the head guy showed up along with more werewolves.  He got 3 attacks, claw, claw, bite.  The claws did 2d10+ and the bite more.  Loki, luckily, was only hit once.  Then Kharn grappled him and pulled him to the ground.  However, this guy seemed to get a legendary action after every person had acted.  (That’s what we get for attacking a legendary creature in his legendary lair.  Not that we had a choice.)  Kharn was taking a lot of damage.  The NPC had said she had a Force Cage that might hold him but just before she went, the guy teleported (moved instantaneously without any opportunity attacks) right next to her.  Petrina couldn’t seem to get a good shot and decided to take two opportunity attacks to get in range of Kharn.  She took 20 hit points in order to give Kharn 40.  Whether that was a fair trade is debatable.  But Petrina didn’t last another round.

Baron Q was on the ropes, soon to be out and there were 4 mostly untouched werewolves on the board plus the boss.  Then one came out with a dagger at the throat of one of the missing kids.  “Leave or he dies.”  Unfortunately, for Brian, his NPC was next and had to choose.  She did that massive damage to all foes and end up wherever you want spell.  She did damage to all but didn’t kill any.  Before he went out, Baron Q hit him with a Blight spell for lots.  The boss used a legendary action to leap to the entrance.  We feared he was going to flee again.  Petrina made a 20 death save and popped up. Kaladin had enough movement to at least engage him.  He hit a bunch with a flurry.  Then Loki, still hasted from the NPC, sped past and shot him 3 times with the Sharpshooter feat and dropped him.  The werewolf with the dagger surrendered and the others were killed.  The NPC was bit and missed a save and an inspiration reroll and Baron Q missed two inspiration rerolls.  So, we need to deal with that.  The last werewolf said the kids were in the next chamber in cages.  But it was after midnight so we stopped there.  We made 9th and some started working on that.

Friday, 27 May 2022 19:34

We started with searching the tower of the monster hunter.  The first things of interest were some vials, flasks and bottles.  Unfortunately, the anti-magic field in the tower meant that Baron Q’s detect magic sight didn’t work.  So, he took them down the slow-moving elevator and out to Lady Petrina.  She hadn’t got up the courage to go in, fearing the magic that keeps her alive might stop.  (It didn’t.)  The flasks were magical and she started an Identify ritual from within a Tiny Hut.  Baron Q stayed with her as a guard.  Meanwhile, Ambrus and Loki searched the tower for clues about this guy.  (And not for loot, we swear.)  With Esmerelda and Ezra standing by.  Kaladin did not show.  Under the bed, Ambrus found a very nice breastplate with a raven crest on it.  It was well polished so obviously of some importance but not worn.  There was also a suit of splint mail standing in the corner.  When Loki examined that, he realized that it was free standing.  I.e. no stand.  When he tried to poke a paw into the face hole of the helmet to see if there was something in there, the armor swatted him away.  And went back to its neutral position.  They put a pin in that one and moved on.  Ambrus searched the desk and found a scroll of Remove Curse and a scroll he could not decipher.  The chest had a preserved head of a Vistani man in it.  Esmerelda did not recognize him.  Based on the back history we got from the note last time, this monster hunter had a big beef with the Vistani who sold his son to a vampire so we postulated maybe this was the head of the head guy.  Other than that, just a bunch of gear you’d expect a monster hunter to have. 

Meanwhile, back downstairs, Baron Q eventually noticed a bruised and bloodied man approaching.  Evidently, he and his sister had fled the riots in Valaki.  She could not go another step and he went head to this tower, hoping for help. Or so he claimed.  The Baron started asking clarifying questions.  Evidently an adventurer group had gone through the city and thrown everything out of balance.  (That’s us.)  About then, Paul logged in and Kharn popped into existence down there too.  This guy looked vaguely familiar to him and his spidy sense was tingling.  The questions quickly escalated into an enraged grapple.  Meanwhile, those in the tower finally noticed the altercation.  But the elevator was slow.  Eventually, Ezra arrived to set this right.  He ordered Kharn to let him go and prepared to do his detect evil thing.  At this point, the guy started bounding off into the forest.  Moving more quickly and jumping higher than a mere human could.  We rolled initiative.  Ezra went first and went after this named werewolf.  However, he ran into several wolves, waiting the woods.  He risked a couple of AOOs to get past them only to run into several werewolves plus another named one.  And because he was dashing, he was well ahead of everyone else.  At this point Kharn was pretty sure this is one of the werewolves that infected him.

Lady P needed two more rounds to finish her ritual.  Kharn ran forward as well.  Loki scampered onto the wagon and promptly rolled 4 rolls in a row and missed completely.  Ambrus and Baron Q advanced.  These werewolves did a ton of damage.  Ezmerelda fired off a Disintegrate and took one out in one hit.  Her next round, she fired off an Acid Sphere thing with Kharn and Ezra in the area.  But Ezra was not worried since he had the Shield Mastery feat which allowed him to save for none on Dex saves.  With advantage, he missed it.  He then used all 3 of his inspirations and one of Baron Q’s and missed all those as well.  (He needed a 12 on the die.)  Kharn was hurt and Ezra was out soon enough.  Ambrus managed to Mage Hand a Goodberry into him.  One of the named werewolves tried to picked him up to carry him off but it was pointed out that he still had acid on him.  He managed to stand up, do a maxed Healing Hands on himself and survive the residual acid damage.  But then the NPC went next and unleashed a massive spell that let her teleport around an area, doing 6d10 sword damage to a bunch of them.  One of which crit.  The second werewolf was taken out and were most the rest.  The main guy, however, used his Legendary Actions to get away as a wolf.  Legendary Fleer.  We took a short rest and a planning to pursue while the trail is fresh.  Although the chances of tracking a legendary wolf through his own forest seems tough.  The 3 potions were healing by the way.  And the 3 vials were likely holy water.     

Tuesday, 19 April 2022 17:45

We had all kinds of technical issues at the start.  Even when we started, it was all jumbled up.  The wayward fox was gone in the morning.  We got our long rest and recovered our fatigue.  We rolled into Kresk without issue.  Loki made the following proposal.  Rather than take the second Druid stone to Wizards of Wines, we could leave it here in Kresk.  Spread the wealth so to speak since the folks in this tiny town were on the edge of starvation.  A boost in crop yield would be a boon.  That was met with general approval.  Furthermore, he proposed putting it in the water supply at the abbey.  It was a plant growth thing and might not help the patients there but it was relatively centrally located and perhaps safer on holy ground.  Since Lady Patrina was in attendance, she could finally identify the items we picked up a few games ago.  She and Loki set up in the Baron’s residence while Baron Q walked the town and the rest went up to the abbey.  From memory.  The pipes were Pipes of Haunting that did a 0 range 30-foot radius fear attack.  It had 3 charges.  It went to Kaladin, figuring he had the most maneuverability to get it in the middle of a big group.  The stone was a Luck Stone.  +1 to skills and saves.  That went to Lady P to help with her concentration rolls.  The amulet was a clockwork device that allow you to “take 10” on any 20-sided die roll once a day.  That went to Ambrus, being the skill guy.  The Oil of Sharpness went to Kharn since he only had a +1 weapon and it gave a +3 for an hour, once.  He’ll probably save it for the end game.  The gems went to Lord Q.  I think that was it.

Meanwhile, the rest went up to the abbey.  Irena seemed to have made some progress, cleaning up and organizing.  We gave her the scroll of Greater Restoration with which she could recover the 20 years she lost from the attack games ago.  She had picked up a level of Cleric since last we saw her.  Kharn filled her in on our goings-on and introduced her to her niece.  She agreed that the abbey was as good as place as any to keep her.  Ambrus’s girlfriend, or so they tell him, was still there.  She was still complaining about the books Lady P took last time.  When we told her our next plan was to search for the missing boys from Valaki that Kharn thought were in the hands of werewolves, she was eager to join.  Evidently, Esmeralda had a steel leg, the result of a werewolf attack.  Kharn told Irena that the baby’s mother was Strahdanya in private and they headed down.  Unfortunately, Loki had to go back up to place the stone, much to the annoyance to Esmeralda.  He took Lady P and Ambrus with him.  Ambrus cast Invisibility on Loki and lowered him into the well.  Using some chicken wire and nails from town, Loki attached the stone to the well wall 10 feet below the waterline.  That all worked out.  Lady P then visited her old room and put some more books in her bag of holding.  When all were reunited, we headed out of town at about 4.

We were heading to the tower of the best vampire hunter in the land who was also Esmeralda’s mentor.  Kharn’s dream thought that was where to pick up the trail of the boys.  I think a night passed on the road.  As we approached, we passed a graveyard that had been very much disturbed.  10 Wights attacked.  They didn’t do much damage but they did some sort of drain.  Luckily, no one missed a save, thanks in no small part from being next to the Paladin.  The fight only lasted two rounds, highlighted by a Chain Lightning from Esmeralda and a radiant Fireball from Lady P.  After that softened them up, the rest of clean-up.  The tower was on a spit of land in the middle of a small lake.  Esmeralda’s wagon was next to it.  We could see wolf tracks all around.  Loki thought they were fresh.  We also noticed that they seemed to avoid the wagon and the tower.  The tower was in poor repair but the door looked formidable.  Loki went up some scaffolding around back and looked into an empty 3rd level.  Ambrus joined him and when he touched the tower to climb up a level, lightning stuck the whole thing.  Those two plus Kaladin and Ezra were close enough to have to make a Dex save.  All saved and 3 had evasion and took nothing.  Loki took 15.  Back to the front door.

The door was a puzzle with 6 different colored gems.  Esmeralda was enough help to tell us what needed to be done (I’m not sure we would have figured it out without her) but not enough to tell us how to do it.  Baron Q figured it out, being the only player still half awake.  Inside was a bunch of junk plus what turned out the be an elevator.  By the way, no magic functioned in the tower.  Baron Q’s magic sight didn’t register any of our stuff.  Quick enough, we all made it up to the top floor.  This looked lived-in but probably empty for several days.  There were miscellaneous items on the table that we didn’t mess with.  We did note that there were many burned pages in the stove but two that were not yet burned.  That was a two-page handout, a note from this vampire hunter.  I can’t do it justice but here is the crux.  This guy was a great monster hunter but all that killing had started to weigh on him.  But he had his son.  At some point, he needed help from the Vistani and they took his son as payment.  And then sold him to a vampire.  A different one than Strahdanya.  He went after them and made some sort of deal with a Lich that allowed him to control undead.  With that, he killed the Vistani.  But unfortunately, his son was now a vampire and he had to kill him too.  The last thing the Vistani leader did was curse him.  He would continue to live but all those around him would die.  So that crazy guy with the tragic backstory is running around out there.  Perhaps linked to the missing boys? It sounds like another “good guy” gone “bad” that we’ll have to kill.    

Community Login



Right Click

No right click