Sunday, January 17, 2021

[Petals & Thrones] Session 21: Death of the Stabsman

Session XXI
Deciding things were getting pretty heavy, our heroes retreat to the surface to take an extra long short rest, including Thoradin doing a 10min healing spell. This gives Tarmont time to reorganize the remaining undead, but since they don't find the PCs, they don't congregate.

Taking out a couple patrols on the way, they manage to get the attention of Tarmont's scout due to Ribbles's familiar. Alerting the entire dungeon, ghouls & zombies begin to swarm upon them. Their combat is pretty decent, but several critical hits along with poor saves against ghoulish paralysis (Tarmont's fireball didn't help either) leads to a very poor situation. It's when Morluck falls to Tarmont's magic missile that they decide to flee, but not before Thoradin is ripped to shreds by ghouls.

It's at this point we have a conversation as to the trajectory of the campaign due to half of the party dying in the sewers. Ultimately, they decided to put the campaign on hiatus. We'll be playing Ars Magica in the interim, maybe returning to this module sometime in the future.

While it wasn't an issue in this dungeon, the players largely felt that the module's five-minute short rest mechanic was a trap, as it tempted them to use it at risk (which really hurt them in the goblin cave & the Great Hive).

Sunday, January 10, 2021

[Petals & Thrones] Session 20: Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun

Session XX
The Heroes of Ramshorn help direct the forces of Hillsreach into Karis for defense, redistribute the Order of the Third Eye (sending fifteen patrols to reinforce Karis), and proceed to be attacked by 70 patrols of the Order of the Lion. It's not a great result, as the heroes are outflanked in the first round and only have 45 patrols to defend Karis, but they proceed to engage in a maneuver to upgrade it to a bloody mêlée, increasing the kill count by five patrols. They debate heavily whether to continue the mass combat into the next round, but decide to cut their losses and retreat; the Lions losing 9 patrols and them losing 7.

Regrouping in Valence, the players walk around the Great Forest to pick up Wesker from Rivermet. Once that's done, they return to Karis under the cover of darkness to evade Lion patrols, entering the sewers from the river. Once inside, they quickly encounter ghouls, and equally quickly take them out. Ribbles uses dancing lights to provide sight for Wesker, as he's the only person in the team that doesn't have darkvision. They're taken by surprise when Morluck awakens the bloat zombies in the cesspool by getting too close. This surprise is taken even further when Ribbles discovers that they're healed by toll the dead, though they're not as surprised when they explode in acid due to their collective history of video games.

Taking out the bloat zombies involved the use of shatter, which alerts the burning ghoul nearby. This fight makes them a bit concerned as they see the numbers appear, especially as Ribbles ends up healing the burning ghoul with toll the dead. They take a round breather when the last of the undead, and then we end the session.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 19:

Session XIX
The short rest was ominous, the unflickering glare of Ribbles's dancing lights flanking them with jade green halls of impenetrable darkness. Acrid smoke still lingered from the scorched spawning pits, and the ichor of slain vermin made for a truly macabre scene in their isolation. Aquilan's sharp ears could pick up an unnerving skittering deeper in the Great Hive. Upon receiving their rest, the heroes Ribbles, Thoradin, Morluck, & Aquilan unsheathed their tools of violence to delve farther into the hive; Sharra, Vincent, Pierrot, & Talon accompanying them.

Having barely taken two turns, they come upon a pair of giant scorpions, who simultaneously notice the invaders and bellow a truly primeval screech of mandibles scraping on mandibles. As they finish the first scorpion, they see behind the behemoth threats a truly vast number of giant ants. The ensuing fight is a slog of blade & spell upon ancient weapons of carapace & venom. Giant vermin are replaced literally faster than they can slay, and when the mortar ants begin to connect with their attacks, followed by a smaller group coming up from behind, is when the party realizes they may have to retreat.

Their attempts at retreat are truly hard fought. Vincent is the first to fall, followed by Pierrot & Sharra. Talon only manages to keep up through Morluck's use of his wand of web to at least slow down the giant army ants. There's literal discussion of which tunnel leads them out of the Great Hive as they run.

Then they meet the spiders.

At one of the junctions, spiders had begun to carve a nest, which nearly overwhelms them as they hear army ants and the dreaded mortar ants slowly catching up. Their attacks are fortunately not true, especially after Ribbles drains the last of his spells with a well-timed use of shield. Ultimately, they do finally escape by the skin of their teeth, returning to their base battered & bloodied.

As their long rest continues, they hear news of Prince Darius picking up the pieces, personally leading a charge into the Great Hive. The threat is finally ended, and the Order of the Wyrd joins the cause against the Lunatic Court's rebellion.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 18: March of the Garden Ants

Session XVIII

Our heroes find the spawning chambers of the Great Hive, which activates a number of the local guards. Ribbles throws a fireball, which goes around a corner and kills a leafcutter near one of the huge pools, ultimately spawning a mega centipede, giant tarantula, & a huntsman before they move Sharra to throw down another wall of fire to ignite all of the nearby pools to stop them from further spawning.

By this point, emergency protocols are activated, so by the time the heroes slay the local stuff, a score of garden ants from the West begin to attack while leafcutters skitter near the huge pools untouched by the players for fear they activate the small pools nearby.

Fortunately, after a prolonged combat, including a few spare spawns from the East, they ultimately kill everything. They take another short rest to recoup and spam necrotic/poison cantrips to clear out all of the pools in the chamber.

Of course, the rest of the Hive begins to fully realize it's under attack, and respawns are beginning during this time.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 17: Creeping Crawlies

Session XVII

Our intrepid heroes work their way deeper into the Great Hive, finding the laboratory. The fights are easy thus far, and they toss torches onto the spawning pools as they find them. Their casual approach takes a turn for the wide-eyed concern when they see into the queen's chamber, as a horde of army ants & giant jumping jacks begin to swarm at them. A web gives them some time, followed by a fireball to severely injure the army ants, gives them some hope. They still feel the heat of so many threats, so they have Sharra throw down a wall of fire to give them time.

As they step back for a breather, they notice leafcutters are finishing extinguishing one of the pools they dealt with, so they slay these surprise ants, then set it ablaze again. Farther back from whence they came, an eclectic mix of vermin start heading for them, so they start trying to fight them off. While back there, they find one of the other pools had been doused as well, so they start having Sharra & Ribbles blast it with poison & necrotic cantrips to fully kill the larvae.

By this point, the wall of fire ends, and the swarm of defending army ants & jumping jacks begin to head for them. Thoradin whips out a maximized lightning bolt the vast majority of the army ants to be taken out. This, followed by some army ants coming from another room, gives them quite the fight. Fortunately, no more vermin seem to pour of the chambers after them, so they take the time for a short rest. does the rest of the dungeon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 16: Hives & Hill Giants

Session XVI

Our heroes take up Caspar's favour and ask around Sormont for information, eventually learning some of the darker suspicions of the Order of the Third Eye by the locals. They look for Caspar, but he's already left for Hillsreach. They ask about an underground river in the area; having to improvise what they know of it, I establish that the Third Eye knows of the river, but only through earth elemental scouting to know the area better. Confirmation of the river was established, but not an entrance, nor much in the way of details either because the Third Eye didn't want to accidentally rile up any potential activity from the Underdark (not that they found any active presence).

Done with the area, they use the gate to Valence and seek an audience with the head of the Free Company. Letanis greets them in her villa, given a robe as she exits the pool. Her request for the Free Company to break their vow of independence is taken into consideration as they leave, and the party adds her to their list of organizations that need to be removed from the playing field when they have time.

They reach Hillsreach and we get past my misunderstanding of the book, didn't realize it had it's own exploration section to find Ned/Ted rather than hearing directly from the giants (and I still don't fully know how Galdul interacts with the Culorate Empire faction). They wander the forest, help out the merchants they find, and greet the fire hobgoblin they rescued a few weeks ago. Afterward, they run into an angry Ted, calm down Ted with a promise to resurrect Ned at the end of the week, and go have words with Galdul about the incriminating forensics.

With the Hillsreach Giants on their side, they head down to the HQ of the Order of the Wyrd to ask for their support in the war. Deciding control of the forest will be more important, they opt to help them before dealing with the Vlatla's request, figuring their alliance with the Vlatla will hold long enough. Zipping along, they find themselves before the entrance to the Great Hive with three members of the Wyrd and Pierrot added to their group. This ball of murder goes along pretty calmly, though they're a bit puzzled as to how handle the spawning pools (they're hoping just leaving them on fire will do).

We end the session after the first spawning pool is encountered, the rest of the hive to be handled next session.

Monday, November 23, 2020

[Petals & Thrones] Session 15: Frontier of Morality

Session XV

Thanks to their earlier attempt at recruiting, the players know where the leadership of the Zodiac Society are meeting. That night, their ambush makes very short work of the realm of depravity, followed by Morluck chopping up the bodies into artful poses with clues a 4th grader can solve leading to the Lunatic Court being the "culprits" for the Zodiac Society's membership to find. Aquilan puts his calligraphy skills to excellent use here. The next day, they ensure that the Zodiacs join the Lunatics, then get some intel on what the Lunatics know about the Free Mithrallavien movement and the Sormont rebels.

They meet with Wesker during lunch, arranging for him to meet with them later in the week in Karis to seize the dangerous Scepter from a rogue necromancer. Afterward, they make toward Sormont, running into the Red Maw Clan partway through. Morluck did well to extract their requirements for joining the coalition, but simply wished them a good hunt as they left, personally contemplating going after them like they did the Zodiacs.

The evening hunt with the regent of the Order of the Stag left them with a similar feeling in their mouth. Aquilan openly wondered if there were any good people in the Eastern Frontier.

Balthazar's requests are simple, but not necessarily comforting to Aquilan, as their intel of the Sormont's rebels indicates their grievances aren't founded on falsehoods. Regardless, that day they head out into the wilderness, using the wizard's familiar to scout ahead. They encounter the hags, attempting to start parley, but an Insight allows them a chance to stop their attempting flank; the counterspelling & resistances make them exceedingly worried, as well as the knowledge that manticores, chimerae, & winter wolves are nearby. Once they discover night hags can turn ethereal, they run.

Their encounter with Sormont rebels & Veyna go much more smoothly, initiating combat before Caspar can even see them fully, though he still recognizes her face. Stabilizing the naga, they bring her unconscious before Balthazar, allowing for questions about Caspar's familiarity to be made. Balthazar dismisses such concerns in a way that is eminently plausible with his personality rather than any kind of malice/deceit, also off-handedly killing her with a cantrip while commenting on how her kind are functionally immortal.

Caspar makes the personal request. The players make their shopping list with the Order of the Third Eye's quartermaster, then prepare for use of their portals to make the Hillsreach trip faster.