Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Terrinoth #8.2 - Lair of the White Wyvern

The high point of the battle: In the foreground Gio drags Entana out of the stream. On the right Strigoi has just cut the rope bridge, causing two goblins to spill into the stream. On the left Orglath sees off two goblin warriors.

Campaign Diary - Part II

Some time after noon, our heroes traced the stream to a cave. Scouting ahead of the party, Gio found four goblins standing sentry at the mouth of the cave.

(Click here for PC profiles)

Guessing that more goblins were inside, the party planned a surprise attack on the sentries. In a co-ordinated attack, they took out all four goblins before they could raise the alarm.

The cave opening led to a long, high cavern. Our heroes crept further in, following the course of the stream and avoiding a trip-wire set near the entrance. Unfortunately, Strigoi lost his footing on the slippery ground and alerted the inhabitants, and soon goblin archers started shooting at the party from a tunnel across the stream from them. Orglath leapt across the stream and threw himself at the archers. Strigoi noticed more goblins rushing towards them from across a rope bridge that spanned the stream, and moved to cut the ropes, causing the goblins to spill into the stream.

Orglath cut one goblin down after another in a berserk rage, and the battle looked to be in the party's favour, when from another tunnel came a roar - a manticore emerged. Entana attacked the monster with his magic, and in response the manticore took to the air and pounced onto the wizard, striking him with the sting on its scorpion tail. As the venom coursed through his veins, Entana felt his muscles weakening and his breathing becoming laboured - the same symptoms experienced by the villagers! Entana slumped into the stream - the team was one member down, and decisive action was needed.

Strigoi yelled at the manticore to distract it, while Gio rushed forward to drag Entana out of the water and then feed the party's remaining healing potion to him. Orglath returned to the stream and leapt onto the back of the manticore, and was struck multiple times by its sting. Under attack by three opponents and unable to fly away, the manticore eventually succumbed. The party cleared the bodies of the goblins and manticore from the stream, took trophies, and ventured deeper into the cavern, eventually coming to a cave by the source of the stream. A steel chain lay on the ground, between two pillars of rock, each into which a steel bracket was set. Claw marks and droppings on the ground revealed that this was where the manticore must have been chained and its venom presumably extracted and used to poison the stream; but how could mere goblins capture a manticore?

The party found an opening in a wall of the cave, covered with thick webs. With Strigoi standing guard, the party took a brief rest, and then set the web on fire, which revealed a cave beyond the opening. Our heroes entered the cave to find crates of looted trade goods, bearing the same mark as the wagon which they came across on the road, but no one... until Strigoi looked upwards and found a goblin hanging like a lizard on the ceiling of the cave, staring back at him. With a hiss the goblin dropped onto Strigoi. This was no ordinary goblin though, as the stream of lighting that issued from his hand soon revealed. A desperate fight broke out in the close confined of the cave. Braving the lightning, Strigoi grappled the goblin sorcerer as Orglath delivered the death blow.

Searching the body of the goblin, the party found an iron amulet in the form of a snake. With his dragon hybrid affinity for magic, Orglath could tell that it was magical, and claimed it as his prize.

With no means to cart all the stolen goods back, our party left them behind and made their way back to the village. As they descended the effect of the venom began to show on Orglath, and by the time they reached the village he could barely walk.

Fortunately, during the day a Priest of Kellos and a Knight of Kellos has arrived to aid the villagers, and they administered to Orglath. Over the next two days the villagers began to recover, but Orglath's strength did not return fully. In the hours spent ministering to Orglath, Johannes, the Knight of Kellos, had come to know him, and now he proposed that Orglath joined him and a band of worshipers on a pilgrimage to a shrine to Kellos at the city of Dawnsmoor to see if he could be healed there. As Dawnsmoor was home to Entana and the party's next destination, they agreed. Strigoi, Entana and Gio would return to Skydown Castle to report to the baron, and then travel to Market Town to rejoin Orglath and the pilgrims.

Prepping and Running the Game

The fight in this session was the biggest one in the campaign so far. It was in fact three fights in close succession, and all played on one single battlemat by Heroic Maps. The boss fight in the original module was set in a dungeon, but I wanted a more natural setting, and this battlemat was almost perfect for my vision.

I use Heroic maps extensively and almost exclusively in my games, and they are now integral to my "process". I would read several modules to find a story line that resembled what I wanted, which I then modify to fit my setting and campaign. I then look through my collection of Heroic Maps files and tiles and also their catalogue to decide the shape and form of my "fight locations".

I was very impressed by how co-ordinated my players' tactics have become. They took out the four goblin sentries in a single combat round, and Gio's player has worked out a system of hiding and fighting from behind one of the larger PCs.

I amended the "stat box" of the manticore. In the Monster Manual a manticore's tail shoots spikes, which are not venomous. This did not gel with the physical appearance of the creature with its scorpion's tail, and I needed it to be venomous to fit the story. I therefore made it a melee attack, with a "save versus poison" effect.

The snake pendant that the party looted was again something by design. So far each of the PCs except for Orglath has picked up something special. I did not want to grant another magical weapon, and magical armour would not be an optimal choice for a barbarian. As Orglath had been "downed" in combat in the two previous sessions, I decided to give him something that would make him last longer in combat. Looking through the DMG, I decided that the Periapt of Wound Closure was a good choice. I wanted a more "primitive" appearance for the amulet instead of the one that was in the DMG, and so I first googled for animals which symbolised healing. One such animal was the snake, and when I googled for snake pendants, I found a very nice picture of a replica of Lobi snake currency, which I used for the loot card.

The appearance of the Knight and Priest of Kellos brings together two story threads. During the previous session the players talked about multi-classing so they could get some healing abilities in the party. Orglath's player expressed an interest in multi-classing to a cleric, but at the same time he had established that Orglath was sceptical of religion. Johannes the Knight of Kellos is a character invented by fg as a mentor for his B Team character, and he seemed a natural choice to be the NPC to bring Orglath into Kellos' fold.

I used Orglath's motivation as a hook, telling him that:"All your life you have sought acceptance, but your violent ways have not brought you that. Kellos knows that it is only in service to others that you will find acceptance by others, and also by yourself.".

Orglath's player asked me if Orglath would become the first dragon hybrid cleric of Kellos if he took up the offer - I thought for a moment and decided it would be cool if that was the case, and so I replied 'yes', and he was sold.

We are taking two weeks' break from gaming after this session, but the next leg of the journey will see the party traveling to Dawnsmoor, Entana's home. This seems to be a perfect opportunity to bring his family, in particular his father, into the game, and have him work through some "daddy issues". I have not yet decided what these issues might be, so if you have any suggestions, do leave them in the comments.

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