Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #4 (part 1)

Well, after a purely combat session, the next was not. It actually angered one of my PCs. Tom likes to splat stuff, and I really don't mind that most of the time, but occasionally you need to do something besides smack stuff. The group consisted of Po, Tom, Jim, and Darrien.

After taking care of all the ghouls and the Blaspheme, they exited the tunnel to find another group on its way. Jim (Cleric of Wee Jas) had finally come in a manner that we were able to get with the rest of the group. However, he had some friends. HE was with Lucian, the Castellan of Ravenloft, and Kavan the Grim, head of the Ravenloft Gaurd. Not to mention several of the other gaurds.

After a near confrontation, the two groups made their way back to the Manor House of the Burgomaster. Ismark the Lesser, who the group had really only known as the town drunk, had taken over. As a relectant thank you, he gave a house in the village to the group as a place to stay since he wanted Jim to rebuild the church and the inn was destroyed.

The group decided to retreat to the house, and then went to sleep. So day 6 in Barovia came to an end.

Day 7 in Ravenloft, the group decided to go up to the castle to find out how much the local lord Count Strahd knew about the werewolf problem, since that was what they come to Ravenloft to deal with.

Going up to Castle Ravenloft, they were escorted to the Dining Room where Count Strahd greeted them.

A brief aside. When I tried running this for my kids, at this point, my eldest son went "Fff..." I looked at him and said; "It would be entirely appropriate to say the f-word at this time." to which he replied "I hit him with my b-word sword". Then two rounds later, Strahd had killed 2/3 of the kid's party. My work PCs did not make this mistake.

After a brief moment of shock, they had a pleasant conversation with Strahd where he invited them to a ball he was having the next day. He even gave them a letter to his tailor to get them appropriate clothing. So they returned to the Village and relaxed for the rest of the day, since they would not have enough time to get to the next town. They spoke to Ismark, the lesser who asked Po's paladin to watch over his sister, since Strahd had his eye on the girl.

This is where the PCs started to realize that something odd is going on. First Jim is from a different country, one across the continent, but had only traveled for a day. They had come from the next town, but the one that Strahd said was immediately to the south was not the one they had come from. They decided to go forth to investigate.

However, they hit The Mists of Ravenloft. The two Paladins failed their rolls, and Ashlyn the NPC paladin fell off. So everything panicked and ran back towards the village. However, on the hurried way back, they ran into a group of Murks attacking a black armored dude with a raven.

The combat only ran for two turns and the group was triumphant. As the group healed their ability damage, the strange armored man told them that he was Sir Urik the last Knight of the Raven. He told them that they couldn't trust Strahd and that every thing he did was for his own purposes. Then the knight left.

Unfortunately, when Ashlyn, the NPC paladin woke up, she had eyes of green fire. They decided to return to Castle Ravenloft to determine what was going on.

About Half Way through, but I'm tired. More later.

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #3

I think that I missed something somewhere. I dunno. I know that at some point the PCs had been harassed by the locals into going to kill the big evil, but I'm not sure when it happened. Maybe we had another in between session, but then I don't know. I think my brain left me sometime in my twenties. The locals had even shot one of the paladins.

So they left and followed the trail back to the church and the graveyard behind it. So this is when the session started. The only people who were there in the beginning were Megan (Wizard), Darrien (Black Bear Rogue/Barbarian), and Josh (Druid).

Going down the tunnel underneath one of the graves, they smelled Ghast stank. Everyone passed their fortitude checks. Then they heard the enchanting song of a ghast harpy. Megan and Darrien failed their check. So Josh dropped his traditional favorite spell, Entangle.

This did not work the way that he thought it would. Both Megan and Darrien made their reflex saves, avoiding being trapped by the Entangle, but cut Josh apart from the rest of the group. Then Po finally showed up.

Megan and Darrien went forward. Darrien got side tracked on his mission to go adore the harpy by a Ghoul Monk. Megan went forward and because of her Improved Invisibility spell, the harpy was unaware of her existence.

Po and Josh made it through the Entangle and were attacked by the Blaspheme that was causing the whole zombie apocalypse.

So in all Po and Josh were fighting the Blaspheme, Darrien was fighting the ghoul monk, and Megan's familar a fire mephit that had passed its will save was fighting the harpy.

Four rounds later, the bad guys were all dead, and the session was over.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #2 (part 2)

So we stopped, right? Right when the PCs were about to go retrieve the 23K SP that they left hanging in a tree in session #1.66, and while my eldest child pointed out the poor chance for a hiding place, it took someone else to wonder how they managed to get the money up a tree in the first place.

Er. Well. Hmmm. Answer to that will win a "No Prize".

So they went back to the silver, since Darrien was busy actually doing work (SUCKER!), Josh decided to climb the tree and get the silver. He grabbed the bag and set off a bear trap. He then failed his climb check to stay in the tree. In all he took 23 some damage from the trap and the fall. So Darrien went to undo the trap, and took 3 damage from the roll of the 1.

So Po's paladin finally got everyone out. The worg mentioned that Varikov the trapper, Strahd's gameskeeper, is the only one allowed to use bear traps in Barovia. So they left to go find Varikov. The trapper lived in cave underneath a waterfall. Cliche, but the adventure is from before the cliches became cliches.

So wandering up the path to the cave, between the river and the cliff edge, the PCs saw a pack of rival worgs. So the Josh's Druid dropped his ever favorite entanglement spell. The rest of the worgs and their Dire Wolf alpha were handled pretty easily by the rest of the party. Then things went bad.

Po decided that his Dire Boar bounded mount was powerful enough to power through the entangled area. It was, unforunitly, it hit a beartrap. Po made his ride check to stay in the saddle, but failed his handle animal check to keep the boar undercontrol. So the Boar charged forward, and hit another bear trap. Yet again, Po made his ride check to stay in the saddle. However, the Boar failed its reflex save to stay on the path and plunged into the water.

So let's review. Po gave his character a nice lithe weight of 115 pounds (you can tell we play a fantasy game!), then add on 50 pounds for full plate, 15 pounds for the large steel shield, 30 pounds of saddle, and a rough estimate of 50 pounds of extraneous gear. A grand total of 260 pounds on top of the boar. Using the standard -1 for every five pounds of gear it would normally be a -52 to the roll. The pool was a DC 15 challenge since it was churning water. We didn't do that. Po sent the boar back into its pokeball. Then he started to drown.

A few rounds later, the worg saved Po's life, thus earning his eternal gratitude and trust. Or, maybe not, this is Po we are talking about. After all, his PC in the Plague world campaign went evil and practically betrayed the group. Well, ran away at a critical time. So his trust is er, Lackadaisical. So we'll see.

So the group regrouped and plotted. They sent Tom the Sorcerer's weasel familiar in to scout out. It rolled really well and was not spotted. So they planned well. Wellish. Poorly. It SEEMED like a good plan. Darrien the Black Bear Rogue was to go in first and then followed by Po and then Josh. Then last would be Tom, far from line of fire.

It worked really well until I told them to roll move silently. Naturally Darrien made the roll, and Po failed.

The first few rounds the PCs moved cautiously since Josh had the only source of light. The Trapper was a dwarf and had no need of a light source. He cut down a rope bridge thus forcing the PCs to go around another direction. Then Darrien walked over a pit trap. He managed to make his reflex save and jumped to the other side. He yelled back to the other side about the pit.

Po decided to give Darrien a hand, since the Black Bear Rogue is still lower level then the rest, and would probably need the help. However, he failed his jump check with a natural one. Turns out the pit trap was actually a slide trap, and he slid out of the cave, back into the pool of water under the waterfall. Then Josh decided to make the jump, and also failed (but not critically). Then I told him to make a reflex save to avoid hitting Po. He then got the natural one. So he landed head first on Po's helmet. Fortunately, he made the fortitude save to not be knocked out.

So then the next turn, Darrien ripped apart the trapper's pet wolf, and Tom easily made the jump check over the pit. Both Josh and Po failed their swim checks. The Worg got in the water and tried to save Josh. Passed its swim check, but failed its strength check. Josh, also playing a female, took a more realistic weight.

The next turn, the inside squad finished everything else. Darrien ripped into the trapper, and Tom finished it off with a lightning bolt. Outside, Josh decided to just use Wild Shape to turn into a freshwater dolphin. The two of them tired of the water, decided to go back to the village via the river.

Tom and Josh, assuming that everyone else was dead (in character), left the cave and headed back to the village via the road. Along the road they met Countess Sasha Illicanova who asked them to escort her to the Vistani gypsy camp. Which they did. Although Tom seemed to catch the Lady's eye, being the only viable male in the group, especially since the other male is a bear.

Josh and Po managed to make it back to the inn in the village, but did not have a nice night. During the night, the zombie defenses failed, and some of the zombies got into the inn. Ismark the Lesser, the son of the deceased burgomaster lead the peasants that had been hiding in the inn away. The NPC paladin, the Po PC paladin, and the Josh Druid managed to combat the zombies, until a woman appear along the rooftops and taunted them and threw a tanglefoot bag at them.

Afterwards they regrouped at the inn's stable, wondering where the worg was, only to find him in the hay loft foaming green from the mouth. The NPC paladin used some ipecac on the worg and saved it, only because Po told her that the worg had saved his life and he owed him. The next morning they set out to the Vistani gypsy camp to hopefully find a cure for the poisoning and met up with the rest of the group.

End of Session...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #2 (part 1)

Well, the last official session started out rather oddly. Walked into work, and the only person there was Tom. Not surprising, he and I are the only ones that normally start in the morning. Then Darrien came in. Megan who starts early on Saturdays wasn't there. We waited for Josh, who doesn't start until 45 minutes after us. Granted good gaming should make someone want to start work early, but the reason that he comes in late is due to the buses. Granted if I thought that I was going to be gaming, I'd come in at 6:30 AM, but hey, that's just me.

Waited a bit for Po, who doesn't work on Saturday, but comes in to play. After 9:30, still no Po, and no Megan. So we started without them.

So the Druid with a Polar Bear, the Sorcerer with a Weasel, and the Black Bear Rogue decided to go back to the Church to investigate further. This is day four in Barovia.

They met with a couple zombies on the way, and everything was going smoothly. Well, as smooth as can be expected. The Druid was using up his healing spells quickily. Then the Ghasts attacked. They paralyzed the Polar Bear, and polished him off pretty quickly. Josh ran over to use his Healing Belt on the Polar Bear to save it. Only to have it fail. The PCs hadn't realized earlier that the Polar Bear had failed a zombie disease check earlier.

The next round, the Polar Bear came back as a zombie with MORE taint then it had gotten fighting the Grey Jester. So it awoke with two taint traits. Sycophantic and Hysterical. Which means that it fawned over Josh's Druid, and laughed at everything. So it was like when your best friend gets really drunk and keeps giving you hugs and laughing at things.

They quickly dispatched the Zombie Polar Bear (I kinda hoped they would keep it). The Paladin of the group caught up with them. So the Paladin and the Sorcerer went onto the church to investigate further, and the Druid and the Black Bear Rogue went to find a new animal companion for the Druid.

The Druid wandered around the mountains of Barovia for awhile. Eventually he got a brown bear and a worg that followed him around.

The Paladin, the Sorcerer, and the NPC paladin examined the wreckage of the church. They got the stuff that belonged to the NPC paladin's party and the stuff from the tainted priest. The items the priest had actually weren't tainted, but he had been. So they divided up the stuff, and decided that the Black Bear Rogue would get the Chain Shirt +1, since it is basically a chain metal t-shirt and didn't require the use of straps or buttons. The Paladin took the tainted priests Full Plate +1.

The Paladin read the church diary of the tainted priest, and got a few points of taint himself, but not enough to gain any tainted traits. The Sorceror looked over the Libre Blaspheme which was bound in human skin, and didn't get tainted.

The Druid and the Black Bear Rogue showed up then, since several hours had passed. They looked over the new animals and the following exchange took place (more or less);

Paladin: A WORG? They're all evil! In the goblin wars, I experienced it first hand. All Evil!
Worg: Barefoot pregnant in the kitchen.
Paladin: Oh, that's it. That things dead!
Worg: You want to throw stereotypes, then I can throw stereotypes.
Paladin: Touche, worg.

The paladin used detect evil on the worg, and amazingly found it was not evil. So he told the Druid it was his responsibility, and then they made plans to go back to Bildrath's mercantile to retrieve the Sunsword. They knew that it was there due to the fortune telling from Madam Eva.

So they returned to Mercantile and asked for the bastard swords the guy had. His mentally handicap nephew brought out a bag with several bastard swords in it. One of them was just a blade and tang made from mithral and had delicate filigree on it. Bildrath would only part with it for 3330 GP. So the Paladin left her old full plate with him as a deposit. And they decided to go back to the Vistani Gypsy camp to get the silver that had been hidden to pay for the Sunsword.

That's when everything went to hell in a hand-basket.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #1.33 &1.66

Well, we also had a bit more that happened throughout the week whenever a couple of us could stand a few minutes. So the group broke into two separate groups. So I'll detail the things they've done in each part.

Group 1:
Po, Megan, Tom
Session 1.33
The two arcane casters and the paladin went to Madam Eva to find out more information about the different things. They found out some information from a fortune telling. However, they also asked about things that were not detailed in the adventure.

Nothing really happened in the session, but it determined where certain items would be located and some of the things that they would have to do to activate them. The most notable of these is that the Sunsword was in a place of money, which means that it would be at Bildrath's mercantile. Which the PCs figured out relatively easily.

This is something I really like about Ravenloft, depending on how the cards play out, it can be a totally different adventure.

Group 2:
Josh, and Darrien
Session 1.66
While the other PCs were having their fortunes read, the other PCs were not involved. Darrien decided that he wanted to gain some more experience, which made sense since he had only gained a level only to lose it to come back to life. I also think that he wanted to take his character for a test run, given that he was now a black bear.

So the druid with a polar bear and a black bear set out to find what had caused one of the Vistani gypsy to start talking like Ben Stein. They quickily found a mile from the Vistani gypsy camp a large circus tent containing a Grey Jester, a type of fey that feed on emotions. The Grey Jester was the ring master of a circus with four minotaur servitors.

It took them most of an afternoon to defeat the five CR 4 opponents, but they were able to do so. Both of them gained enough XP to go up in level and quite a bit of treasure.

Since this had not been a planned part of the adventure, and was just a side trek I had to use the random treasure table, which generated something interesting. 23,000 Silver Pieces. The following conversation took place;

Me: After spending several hours counting it, its 23K SP.
Josh: How much is that in gold?
Me: Er. Two Thousand Three Hundred.
(Josh starts to write it down on his character sheet, I glare.)
Josh: You're not going to allow me to just add this as money are you?
Me: Not a chance. That's a lot of silver pieces, you got to figure out how to deal with it.

So a few minutes later we determined that it was 460 pounds of silver pieces. So they decided to bound it up in a piece of canvas from the circus tent and hid it in a tree with a Hide result of 17.

Interesting side note; When I told my son who is eleven that they did this, his response was this; "Twenty Thousand silver in a tree a mile from a gypsy camp? Well, that's twenty thousand silver they won't see again."

Oddly enough the kid was right...for a bit...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Campaign Recap; Ravenloft #1

With the last post, I mentioned how I was running the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft adventure. So I think that I'll get a little more indepth, since one of our PCs has been out since it began.

To start with, things have changed at work. We got moved to a new pod, or rather pod and a half, since most of the computers in the new section are broken. Odd, the computers for the Technical Support are broken. Some are because they were for another account before ours and just aren't taking to the new software, and another because it is a legal dispute. When they replaced the carpet in the building, apparently the carpet company actually cut one of the fiber optic cables for data transmission. This has lead to a legal battle between the carpet company and the data company over who has to fix it. Which is just stupid. Fix the damn thing, it will take all of an hour! But with so many of the computers broken, we had to take in a straggler. Darrien, who is not tech support, but showed interest when we would talk D&D. Which is more then Ed who joined us for a few weeks did.

Halloween is coming up in a few weeks, so I decided to pull out EtCR. Darrien asked to play, so I let him roll up a first level rogue as a henchman who would gain experience. This is something that Po and I disagree on. He'll take anyone and let them start with a high level character, but I think it is best to start low and build up. It's a matter of personal preference. One of many, but not one that prevents either of us from enjoying each other's games.

I allowed everyone to start with a level 7 character with 19K GP of equipment. Except Darrien, who would start at level 1 with standard starting equipment. I have no idea why so many of the PCs decided to play women when they aren't in real life. I guess cause its not going to be a long term thing, it doesn't really matter. It's not like those guys are going to be girls for the next few years.

Po; A female human paladin, breaking from his normal position of playing male characters with a slightly cowardly (if not evil) outlook. His paladin Cassandra Victoria rides a dire boar.
Megan: A female elf wizard with a fire mephit familar.
Tom: A male sorcerer with a weasel familar. This has been Tom's most successful character to date. He's really come into his own with it.
Josh: A female human druid with a polar bear companion.
Darrien: A male human rogue with jet black skin. This is interesting. I looked over his character sheet and under skin he wrote 'black'. I asked him if he meant African American or jet black. He thought about it for about two seconds, and then stated it was jet black. After running him through a few encounters to get a feel for the game, he was at 2nd level to start with.
Jim: A human cleric, who hasn't started playing yet. He's been off since the mini-campaign began, and our thoughts are with him.

So it started with the PCs getting a note from the Burgomaster of Barovia asking for help since there were werewolf attacks. So the PCs set off for Barovia, with the idea of saving people from werewolves. However, they found that there was a zombie apocalypse going on at the time. After a few encounters they reached the center of the village and met with the NPC Ashlyn, a female paladin of the same order as Po. After helping re-establish the barriers and destroy the zombies that were in the immediate area, the PCs rested.

The next day Ashlyn told them that her group had gone to the local church of Pelor to sanctify it and get clerical help. That had been two days ago. Ashlyn decided to stay to help the people and the PCs went to see what was happening at the church.

This is where things kinda went wrong. I had told Darrien that as a new player, and low level character to stay to the back of the group and let everyone else get in first. He took that advice at first, but then started to go forward.

When the group got to the church, the whole place radiated evil. The main doors were shut and barred. So the druid used woodshape, and turned the doors into bars. They could see the priest at the alter, his full plate with Pelor disgraced. The next round, things went poorly. The PCs found they couldn't open the door, since with wood shape, it doesn't destroy wood it just moves it. So they had the Polar Bear wreck the door. The paladin walked in, and then the evil priest dropped a circle of death from a scroll on them.

Everyone except Darrien made their save. So the poor 2nd level Rogue died. Even the stupid weasel made his save. The rest of the round, Tom blasted the evil priest with a lightning bolt, and Josh hit it with a flame strike. Killed the evil priest. End of turn one.

The next few rounds were all about taking out the other undead hanging out in the church. When the paladin went forward to examine the giant hole in the floor of the church and determined it was the source of the evil. So she walked out and had the druid hit the church with flamestrike again, collapsing the building.

The PCs took Darrien's body and the druid cast reincarnation on him. So the human with jet black skin came back as a black bear. An odd synchronicity to that, the druid with a white furred polar bear reincarnated a dude as a black furred bear.

End of session. More soon!

Long Time, No Posts...

Heh. Thought I forgot about this, didja? Had a bit of a slump there for awhile. However, we've started playing on Saturdays again. I've been running Ravenloft. The 3E Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, which I find superior to either the original I6 or the 2nd Ed update. There's more to it to begin with, but still lots of things I can flesh out. Of course, though are the changes I've made due to my PCs.

Quite a few of them are familiar with Ravenloft and its master, Strahd. They KNOW that Strahd is a vampire. They know that messed up stuff is happening, mostly because of Strahd. There's enough there that if they just ran over to the castle and started messing things up, it would be well justified. However, I'm taking a longer term approach. There are things that need to be done first, and I keep modifying the adventure to fit.

Ravenloft is one of those truly great adventures for doing that. There are enough NPCs that are detailed and the political situation is well detailed, so I know everyone's motivations for doing stuff. Using that as a backdrop, I could probably run a full campaign here with sidetreks. However, it will come a time when things change and they go after the master of the Castle.

There's where things will be very different. There's already some things that have changed. The villagers do not live in fear of Strahd, he's viewed much like any nobleman. There's a Worg who didn't show up as evil when the paladin did a detect evil. I added a short side trek with a Grey Jester, and killed the polar bear. Because the PCs have yet to take care of the zombie incursion, well, things are going to get worse for them in the eyes of the villagers. Granted the PCs showed up to kill some werewolves, which they have yet to see, but still...

I think I'll detail some of the stuff that we've done in some other posts.