Tuesday, 07 March 2023 22:49

Ravenloft Game 59 - 03/03/23 - Creepy Old Men

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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

Ravenloft Game 58 - 02/10/23 - Attack the Darkness

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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. 

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

Ravenloft Game 56 - 01/20/23 - Roc and a Hard Place

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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.

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.                                                                             

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.        

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

Ravenloft Game 52 - 10/28/22 - Isn't Piccolo A Namek?

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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

Ravenloft Game 51 - 10/07/22 - The Not-So Fun Factory

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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.                                                                     

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

Ravenloft Game 49 - 09/24/22 - Giants in the Mists

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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

Ravenloft Game 48 - 09/02/22 - Detectives on the Loose

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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. 

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