Monday, May 11, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 3.5: Goblin Ambush & How It Happened

Session III + 1/2
This has been a short session due to the alignment of real-life responsibilities, so we didn't get much done.

After having paid for the hirelings and set out for the sahuagin forces Sir Caspar spoke of, they didn't get far before running into an ambush of three bugbears and at least half a dozen goblins. It was a brutal fight. Both Selpora & Ribbles were fully taken down, and while the bugbears were ultimately taken down, every single goblin escaped with their hides intact. What helped was that for that entire fight, which the goblins entered and exited from Stealth at least twice each, I rolled an average of 16 on their checks. Worried, they went ahead and took a short rest to get everyone standing again and assess the situation.

Addendum
Now, for those who have experience with 5E, it has been commented that there are no concrete rules for handling Stealth on the whole. Sure, there's the skill check for it, Perception, and Passive Perception. But there's precious little in the way of when the check can be made, what can be expected to modify the results, etc. For that, I have been using the following rules:

Perception
Passive Perception 10 + Wis mod, max 10 unless proficient in Perception
Alert Status - If you designate yourself as Alert, you must designate what you are specifically keeping an eye out for; enemies, secret doors, strange behavior in a crowd, etc. Any time you roll Perception, you are guaranteed a minimum result. To remain Alert, you must not engage in activities that require concentration; conversation (quick battle shouts are fine), fighting, casting, maintaining concentration on spells, etc.
  •     Low Alert 10 + Wis mod + proficiency (if applicable)
  •     High Alert 10 + Wis mod + proficiency modifier (even if not proficient)
Low Alert is only applicable if you don't expect an immediate threat, such as being on guard duty. High Alert is when it's known that your target is afoot, such as hostile goblins receding back into the underbrush.
Complementary senses that aid in detection, such as tremorsense, increase all of these minimum values by +3. Effects that grant (dis)advantage adjusts these minimums by +/-5 as usual.

Stealth
To perform a Hide action, you must have some amount of cover or be within an area that is obscured, relative to the creature(s) you are hiding from. If you do not know the creature is there, then your check is made at disadvantage. If you are invisible, you may forgo movement to gain advantage on Stealth checks, and have the option to hold your breath to add your Proficiency as a stacking bonus to your Stealth check for the round.
Cover If you have cover, you enjoy a minimum Stealth result. Effects that grand (dis)advantage adjust this value by +/-5 accordingly; such as loud sounds or the enemy is able to be directed by someone else that can see you.
  • Half Cover 8
  • 3/4 Cover 12
  • Total Cover 16
Credit: Grit & Glory. I cannot take credit for designing these rules. I found them online through an outside source and have applied them here. The resource is handy for ideas, though I feel the product as a whole can be overly detailed and difficult on an adventuring party.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 3: Blood & Gold

Session III
The battle begins to their advantage. The Red Jester sets Sir Brander's breastplate on fire with heat metal, and then the Ringmaster takes out nearly the entire enemy force but a single archer and ogrillon with hypnotic pattern. It was essentially a rout from that point, the party hunting down runners, ultimately only a single archer escaped with their life.

Some time is spent trying to figure out who will carry what in terms of loot, but the party ultimately returns to Ramshorn with their bloodied reward. That night is the Lunatic Fête, in which the party mingles. Aquilan's kata routine brings a joyous smile to Clown. Morluck pushes really hard to convince Vlatla & Lunatic alike to send soldiers over to Ramshorn to handle the leftover spiders in the region, which grows tiresome with both factions; fortunately, Morluck's call for mercy on the captured Bear soldiers (besides Sir Brander) was sufficiently impassioned to offset that concern.

After the Fête, a few days later, they are approached by Caspar & Lidia for their respective quests. Morluck presses Caspar that they could take members of his Order to fight spiders as additional payment, but runs hard into the fact that while they deserve respect, the Order's needs are elsewhere.

After the long rest, they hire Selpora, Milo, & Fodel and let them have access to their small armament.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Belldrone: A Tavern's Silencer


Artist: Aleksandar Ignatov

Designed by Draco Hallacan, a former adventuring wizard who turned to running a drinking hole called the Wight House, the Belldrone is a novelty of convenience. It's primary function is to manage the noise level in a tavern to a comfortable level. Draco's belldrone has become the de facto mascot, its light-emitting clapper having been adapted to adjust the colours generated and allowing for a dazzling performance.
It's been a popular design, and has seen variations made in taverns across the realms.

For a PDF of these stats, go < HERE >

Sunday, April 26, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 2: Battle of the Bear

Session II
Our intrepid heroes, after rethinking the wisdom of bringing squishy, squishy Bryce along with them, tread forward into the wilds of Ramshorn. They are mildly scarred by funnel spiders & jumping spiders, the latter making a critical pounce on Aquilan's face, but very swiftly slay them before they can attempt to escape.

They come upon their first group of Bear soldiers, and fortunately, one of them is a knight attempting to give the veneer of respectability. After some very terse diplomacy (and several gold in toll), they are given a warning and the party circles around them to the North, coming upon a pair of Bear infantry being attacked by giant wolf spiders. Saving them, they earn some goodwill and convince them to be escorted to the central camp...ultimately being recognized, increasing the guards' entourage and setting the tone with Sir Brander to be cool at best.

Fortunately, through Morluck's diplomacy and the goodwill of having saved two infantry men from death by spider, they're permitted a chance to walk away with a message that the Order of the Bear will collect their taxes soon. Running away, the party send word to the Lunatic Court, and speak with Pantaloon - who considers this a prime opportunity to achieve some goodwill with the people of Ramshorn, especially if they can outsource some muscle with the party (let them get paid in salvage).

Together with their group of Lunatics, they fought the first wave of Bear soldiers in the Battle of the Bear - 2 ogrillons, 2 elementalists, 8 archers, & 11 infantry (I rolled very high). The fight ends up remarkably well in their favor due to well placed tactics and lucky dice rolls, and none are actually slain. Thoradin uses a prayer of healing during the short rest, and they continue onward to fight Sir Brander at the Watchtower...

Saturday, April 18, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 1: Return to Ramshorn

I know it's been awhile since I've reported on the events of our cast of heroes, but life has gotten in the way as of late. Here's where we left off. Roland, Victor, & Bridgitte have perished in the caves of the goblins; having taken a rest a third of the way into their caves and thus giving the forces time to rally and slay them under a deluge of goblinoid bodies.

We now gather a new group of PCs

Cast
Ribbles Folkor

  • Race: Gnome (Svirfneblin)
  • Class & Background: War Mage Wizard & Sage
  • Boon: Beak's Defense


Morluck Knife-Ear

  • Race: Elf (High Elf)
  • Class & Background: Swashbuckler Rogue & Courtier
  • Boon: Sword Saint


Aquilan Thesalor

  • Race: Elf (Wood Elf)
  • Class & Background: Kensei Monk & Courtier
  • Boon: Got Gud


Thoradin Battlehammer

  • Race: Dwarf (Hill)
  • Class & Background: Tempest Cleric (of Moradin) & Acolyte
  • Boon: Martial Advantage Advantage


Session I
Things are more organized this time around. I compile a primer and such of the setting for people to peruse before the game begins. In a fit of deja vu, Morluck talks down the toll price, the party approaches the town, smells smoke, and begins stabbing belligerent Bear soldiers.

This time around, Andie manages to survive long enough for the cleric to stabilize her, and a number of Bear soldiers are also stabilized by Thoradin. Morluck is thoroughly running through them with a flourish, while Ribbles' owl manages to scout over the town something fierce. Aquilan & Ribbles (played by two of the original players from the prior attempt at Ramshorn) run into trouble with their dice rolling, but are there and contribute. Their jaws drop at the performance of Harlequin and her Lunatic Court, Morluck low-key fanboying.

After the raid, they have a short conversation, but then go into full negotiation with Goldblum, failing to improve his offer of 200gp in store credit after the Order of the Bear is handled. They also interrogate one of the surviving Bear infantry, discovering that he's a stupid one and just follows the archers when it's time to find the Order's camp, and all of the archers have either already escaped or were killed.

Gathering the fallen's wealth, they run face-first into Ront's policy of only buying weapons for scrap. So, they discover that Bryce is a priest of a forge god, and after a fair bit of high-rolling Persuasion (and about 30gp), they convince him to answer the Call to Adventure and join them as a hireling to manage their packmule in the hopes that they can get him to level 2 and leverage that sweet Force Cleric power. Tossing their haul into a room in the Accidental Gryphon, they set out that day to seek out the hidden camp of the Order of the Bear...

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

[Volaire, Pathfinder E6] Ishtarian Serpents

In Volaire, fiends do exist, but they are considered rare threats. Cultists can pool their resources and ritually summon energies from dark dimensions, but imps are among the most powerful fiends they can pull wholly into our dimension. It's generally more efficacious to use said energies to corrupt an extant being, generally a beast, as sentient minds don't react well to such corruption. Operating in such a manner over the span of years can twist the environment, leaving traces in the land itself. Over the span of generations, the uninterrupted work of dark cultists on a large scale can pollute entire ecologic regions.

The planet Unas is a world where rampant, uncontrolled channeling of extraplanar energies had gone unchecked for a century by a corrupt government who ignored the existential threat. The Moon Gate of Quag Keep, once the gleaming jewel of the system, was disrupted by a rival faction in an attempt at sabotage; resulting in a domino effect in an already magically unstable region that opened what is known as a Hellmouth, a permanently torn rift in space. The larger a Hell Mouth, the more powerful the fiend that can fit through. The Hell Mouth of Ishtar is the largest known in the Tapestry, and one of several such entities that came through is what is colloquially known as the Ishtarian Serpent. Academics call it a Thethtu.

O flower heart hides within a serpent’s face!
The gate is barred! Smash the door, shatter the bolt.
Life becomes death. Death becomes life.
  • Cataclysm of Quag Keep, Epistle of Milo
Thethtu are exceptionally dangerous fiendish serpents; between five & six feet wide and roughly a hundred feet long. Most dangerous is Thethtu venom, which will enslave escalating loyalty to the serpent, animating their corpse if they die while it courses through their veins. As zombies are accrued, they move about like ants in service to their queen; protecting the serpent and its territory, seeking living creatures to subdue and drag to the serpent for conversion, etc.

Thethtu, Ishtarian Serpent [CR 6]
Gargantuan outsider (evil)
Init +1; Senses DV 60’, Notice +6; Spd 40’, 40' climb (compression); Reach 20’ (30’ tail)
hp 68 (5d8+45); AC 19 (+12 nat, +1 Dex, -4 size); SV Fort +13, Ref +2, Will +3
Immune mind-affecting; Resist cold/fire 10; DR 5/good; SR 11
Melee bite +10 (2d8+11 plus poison), tail slap +5 (1d4 nonlethal plus trip)
Stats 33.13.29.-.14.6; BAB +3; CMB +18; CMD 28 (cannot be tripped)
Skills Climb +19, Notice +6, Stealth +0
Ishtarian Poison (Su) When exposed to the poison, the victim must make a DC 21 Fortitude save or be unable to attack the Ishtarian serpent, effectively charmed. Every round afterward for the next minute, another Fortitude save must be made or the condition will progress. Failing a second time results in the victim being fascinated by the sight of the Ishtarian Serpent. Failing a third time results in the victim being dominated to serve the serpent for 1d4 hours. If the creature dies while under the effects of this poison, then their body is immediately animated as a zombie with the instinct to serve the serpent.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Fiendish: A Delve into Conlang

As a general rule of thumb, especially in fiction, artificial languages are unnecessary. The audience's limited exposure can rarely tell whether you put something together in a day with basic rules or spent a decade painstakingly constructing a new language down to incorporating historical borrowings and vowel shifts. This isn't to say you shouldn't put any thought into your constructed language, because zero effort conlang can be random and jarring. Something internally consistent and about a level deeper than what the audience will interact with is sufficient to make your fantasy language look superficially complete.

It is from that mindset that I am now doing conlang with the vulgar tongue of demons. This is a language spoken by fiendish inhabitants that possess many of the same morphological traits of humans as it pertains to communication; lips, tongue, a perception of time following the arrow of entropy, etc. Deal-making is also a major facet of their culture. Beyond this, I'm not planning on any deeper world-building of demonic culture, since I plan on this being applicable for multiple settings that use the above archetype.

Grammar

Fiendish sentence structure is Subject - Object - Verb. English follows SVO. An example of SVO is "Sam ate oranges," while SOV is "Sam oranges ate."

Grammatical Case

Fiendish conjugates its vocabulary pretty heavily. Objects aren't so much "gendered" as they are informing of the financial/hierarchical relationship. The object of a sentence is conjugated based on its relationship with the subject of the sentence, while the subject of the sentence is conjugated based on its relationship to the speaker. In the right context, this same conjunction is used in the ablative & allative cases (generally "wish to sell" & "wish to procure," respectively). As a good rule of thumb, apply the appropriate suffix to any noun. Appending -way or -ai to someone's name is an excellent way of indicating that the speaker is used to speaking in the tongue of demons.
-una  Neuter
-way  Lender, Seller, Owner, Allative
-ai  Debtor, Buyer, Owned, Ablative
-wan  Instrumental (tool)
-kuna-  plural

Subject Pronouns

First person subject pronouns (I, we) are generally not voiced, and are presumed when no other subject pronouns are used in the sentence.
Qan-  2nd person subject pronoun (you)
Pay-  3rd person subject pronoun (they)

Verb Tenses

Same principle as above. Take the verb and append it appropriately based on the tense. Fiendish cares about whether reporting of a past event is first or second-hand information (third+ hand is grouped here).
-ni  present
-chu  present (negative)
-sqani  past (reported)
-rqani  past (experienced)
-man  past (negative; would have)
-saq  future
-chik-  plural (allies)
-chi-  plural (minions)

Verbs

T'urpu-  to stab
Mikhu-  to consume (and add to yourself)
Lik’i-  to consume (without adding to yourself)
Impuwistu-  to invoice
Khuya-  to love
Qunqu-  to forget
Iñi-  to believe, accept as true

Nouns

sach'a (perennial), saca  large woody plant
-micun  food-bearing (temptation; eg apple)
-hamp  food-bearing (protective; eg oak)
q'illay  kanina coin
qullqi  price
asnu  gullible fool
michi  goblin

Sample Sentence

Qanai t'urpusaq  I will stab you (vengeful connotation)
Michikunauna asnuai mikhuchiksqani  Goblins ate, from what I know, the moron.

General Phrases

Haykai’k-[case]  Welcome!
Maypi [noun]?  Where is the [noun]?
Yanapayk-[case]!  Help! (-ai gives connotations of "my kingdom for a horse!", -una is more typical, -way is more prideful/assertive)
Wuynas diyas-[case]  Good morning!
Chu No. Adding grammatical case is only when being formal, especially in transactional context.