Sagiro's Story Hour: The FINAL Adventures of Abernathy's Company (FINISHED 7/3/14) - Page 59
  1. #581
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    With respect, Quartz, you're describing a very different campaign than ours. I'd spend a lot of time snarling in such a game.
    Very true, and it's a shift that can't really be introduced now, at such a late stage.

  2. #582
    I went through something similar just tonight. The end result was something like "you're making stuff up to cover for screwing up!" I feel somewhat screwed, and couldn't put my finger on why- was I just being a poor player?

    PC said it best. The DM's actions just stripped away any immersion. I went from playing a game to trying not to argue incredulously, and it left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. Thanks, PC, for giving me the words on that. It'll help smooth over any hard feelings.

    As for the actual battle with the Ritual, and with Mokad... It was close, and I would have preferred to read something about the BC teleporting in-- about 20 minutes too late! But it didn't read like rail-roading. Maybe because of the divination specialty. After all the stuff this party has done I would have thought he'd have the benefit of the doubt. Though I guess I myself would probably have been butt-hurt. I'm not on your level of play just yet though; I've room to grow.

  3. #583
    My experience with struggling to be a good player and not a jerk (this is not easy for me) is that no matter how much I trust and respect the GM, it is hard to keep perspective when the character and party I care about is getting nailed to the wall by a plan gone awry. A few days after the fact, I sometimes have a bit more perspective, but sometimes in the shorter term there's snarling.

    To be honest, the vast majority of players I know are the same way I am, and I've been on the receiving end many times as well. It's tough, and I think Sagiro handled his campaign's situation optimally. A big part of that came from really solid exposition, beforehand and after, on what the PCs could expect from the Black Circle.


  4. #584
    On Disjunction: When my part had that available, we very rarely used it. Only in extremis. Why? Because it not only helped win the battle, but, as a disturbing side effect, destroyed the treasure and put the caster at risk of losing all casting abilities forever (you never knwo when there might be an artifact in the area).

    On "suspension of disbelief" (aka "suspension of belief, aka "immersion"); I agree it is most annoying to lose this - the world should hang together and one should not get the sense that the DM acts randomly. Our current DM helps this by occasionally doing a "behind-the scenes" look at what is happening that the PCs woudl not see or know.

    On this story: More! More! I am on the edge of my seat waiting for how this plays out.

  5. #585
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    Joshua, I strongly urge you to wait for future updates before deciding whether the Black Circle attack was truly railroady, or whether it made the game go more or less interestingly!
    No way, man. This was the last straw. After, like, nine years of reading this story, I'm turning my back on it because of one DM decision that I don't completely agree with.

    (Uh, yeah. Joking.)

    Re: disjunction, for a less scorched earth approach, but unfortunately one that is equally annoying to track the results of, I am fond of using area dispel magic to strip people's buffs. Or even better, a strategically placed [spoiler]Otiluke's dispelling screen (I think that's the name -- in the 3e Spell Compendium -- basically a wall of dispel magic) over the entrance the PCs are most likely to use. And you'd think my players/PCs would have learned not to charge in blindly after the third time it happened, but no... *shakes head sadly*[/spoiler]

    I spoilered that so Sagiro won't look at it and get any evil ideas.

  6. #586
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    Before I describe this fight, I thought I should mention a metagame note that will shed light on some of the details. We no longer use XP in the campaign. Instead, I level the party at a pace that seems right to me, and when they level, each character gets a stash of Action Points equal to [(Level/2) + 5)]. One Action Point can be spent in lieu of 1000 XP for use in endeavors that require them, such as powering a wish or miracle, or crafting magic items. Action Points can also be spent to increase a single die roll, to gain temporary access to feats, or, at the time of this combat, to gain an extra standard action during your round.

    I have since disallowed that last usage, since it resulted in the same “three spells every round” pacing that made me dislike the old 3.0 haste so much. But in this fight, that’s the explanation for how the PC’s are able to accomplish so much. They collectively used a whopping 14 Action Points in the combat, and the casters were doing “spell, quickened spell, action point spell” almost every round.

    Sagiro’s Story Hour, Part 321
    Gone in 18 Seconds

    18 seconds.

    In a diplomatic encounter, it often takes longer than that to introduce one or two of the participants, preparatory to hours of verbal sparring. On the field of battle, two armed and armored soldiers might take that long just circling one another, probing for an opening, clanking sword against shield, stumbling in the mud.

    When some of the most powerful spell-slingers and warriors in the world meet to do battle, 18 seconds is enough time for expenditures of energies not seen in entire lifetimes of common folk; for the mighty to live, die, and live again; for the fortunes of the world to be decided, its course spun anew.

    Consider the hourglass turned at the moment of the enemies’ arrival.

    “Curse you!”

    Aravis reacts before anyone else. He casts time stop. The Ellish priestesses are halted mid-chant. One has just tossed a handful of reagents toward Praska’s supine form; each crystal, mote and flake are suspended, their outlines bright in Aravis’s perception. Thirteen members of the Black Circle hang motionless in mid-air, clustered in two teleport groups. Almost on instinct Aravis shapechanges into his preferred yellow dragon form, then casts shield on himself. But luck is not with him, and time kicks in sooner than he hoped. With another muttered curse he lands atop the low stone wall and sends a quickened fireball into the middle of one of the enemy clusters.

    The wizardess Sen Pi blinks. One of her enemies has cast a spell and vanished, and instantly a summoned dragon has appeared. But she has her orders, and sticks with the plan. As the dragon is landing, she flies up and over, and waves a hand at the wall riddled with holes. Over half of the glowing rods are forcibly ejected from their slots, clattering to the ground, some first bouncing off a green translucent bubble of force that surrounds Praska and her altar.

    “Hey!” Dranko shouts. “We spent all day setting that up!”

    The other of Cor Kek’s wizards, Tai-En, has his attention grabbed by the dragon, and while Dranko complains, he attempts to polymorph it into something more harmless. Aravis can feel his form start to shift, but his draconic form resists the effect.

    At the same time, Tel Mek, the Captain of the Black Circle Guard and a supremely accomplished fighting man, flies down to hover next to Flicker. He buries a black mace in the halfling’s side, and beyond that, some kind of palpable and painful aura is radiating out from his armor. Flicker’s preternatural reflexes keep him from falling off the wall, but barely. Tel-Mek, his white hair and goatee peeking out in places from his helmet, snarls down at his opponent. Flicker responds almost instantly, activating the hand of glory that lets him see invisible things. He gulps at the sight of Tel Mek towering over him, but slashes several times with his short sword. He doesn’t even make a scratch.

    Dranko sees Flicker in trouble, and puts up a wall of ice that effectively extends the wall upward 30’. Tel Mek frowns as his quarry is denied him for the moment. Dranko adds a spur that shields the isolated Kibi from the knots of enemies above him, before running along the wall and vaulting onto Aravis’s back.

    Grey Wolf is already casting as this happens, following a quickened ironstorm around one group of enemies with a chain lightning. Electricity tears at the Black Circle devotees, burning their clothes and skin. None of them die, though almost all are left smoking and in pain.

    Three of Tel Mek’s elite fighting unit had been moving toward the dragon almost from the moment it appeared. They shrug off its terrifying aura and slash at Aravis’s scales with their swords, becoming visible in the process. Two land telling blows, and blood gushes from the dragon.

    Three seconds have now elapsed.

    Cor Kek, Grand Diviner of the Black Circle, recognizes Dranko from Mokad’s many tales. Black lesions crawl on the cleric’s face, and Dranko can feel sympathetic pustules erupt all over his skin. But Dranko is tough enough to essentially shrug these off.

    “Is that all?” he taunts.

    Cor Kek snorts, turns his bald head to Aravis, and casts energy drain upon the dragon. Life and magics are sapped from the wizard, and Aravis feels his most potent spells torn from his head: greater arcane sight; lightning ring; maze; his backup maze; polymorph any object; and most distressingly, his emergency Mordenkainen’s disjunction.

    “What was that?” Cor Kek scoffs, as he flies upward and out of the ironstorm “Your ride appears to be flagging.” The Company notes that despite being in the chain lightning-ironstorm apocalypse, Cor Kek appears almost entirely unhurt.

    “Boss!” Pewter says urgently. “That’s him! That’s Cor Kek, their high priest!”

    Even as Cor Kek is exchanging words with Dranko, Ernie, who cannot see the many enemies still invisible, is almost screaming over the mind-link. “Dranko, where are they?”

    “To the left of Aravis, and twenty feet forward of him,” Dranko thinks. “You’ll get a bunch of them.”

    Ernie immediately drops a flame strike on a cluster of the enemy as he hops down from the wall, and then casts righteous wrath of the faithful, bolstering his allies. For the first time since its construction, the Merging Room of Aza Temg is filled with the scent of fresh bread.

    Dranko’s wall of ice has caused some tactical difficulties for several of Tel Mek’s elites; as they fly over and around it, Kibi also moves, and when he has line of sight drops a maximized coldfire on the knot of enemies near Aravis. One of the elites drops from the air, along with an under-priest named Clavyn who never even had time to get his bearings, let alone act in the combat. Kibi follows with a second (quickened and empowered) coldfire, this one catching Cor Kek, Tai En, and two of the elite fighters. None drop. A small gem falls from Tai En’s headband, and all of the wizard’s wounds heal. Crap!

    In the midst of the tumultuous blasts and flashing blades, Dranko continues his repartee with Cor Kek.

    “You really are the world’s biggest prick. What’s this whole ‘ending the world’ thing going to do for you, anyways?”

    “Ending the world? Nonsense! I’m just going to make it more palatable.”

    Morningstar, while everyone else has been instinctively firing off spells and attacks, has been considering what best to do to protect her three Ellish priestesses who had been assisting in the ritual. It’s a miracle, she thinks, that they haven’t yet been caught in some area-of-effect spell and annihilated. They could flee, except that as a (failed) defensive measure, she had placed a prismatic sphere in the only doorway out of the Merging Room. With a sigh she dismisses the sphere, quickens a true seeing, and drops a flame strike exactly where Ernie had cast his. Tai En and one of the enemy fighters are burned; a second fighter is killed outright; and Cor Kek is entirely unaffected.

    Clavyn may have been killed, but the other two underpriests, Three Quick Winks and Mon Zat, overcome their indecision borne from the baffling chaos of their first full-scale battle against equals. In tandem, even as Dranko and Cor Kek are jawing at one another, and Morningstar is motioning for her priestesses to make their escape, the two Black Circle priests each drop a flame strike on Grey Wolf, Dranko and Aravis. Dranko evades both, using Aravis’s larger body to shield himself. Aravis and Grey Wolf are both badly burned. Morningstar sighs with relief as her sisters make a hasty retreat from the fray, then turns her full attention to the battle.

    Six seconds

    Drained and near death, Aravis changes back to his human form in order to use his tongue stud of potion quickening to gulp down a healing draught. (Dranko deftly dismounts to stand again on the wall.) Aravis would like to target a greater dispel on Cor Kek, but realizes that this will be quite ineffective due to the energy drain. Instead he quickens a disintegrate and fires it at Cor Kek, but the Grand Diviner has come to the battle with spell resistance cast, and the beam dissipates harmlessly.

    Sen Pi flies into position and blasts Aravis, Dranko, Grey Wolf and Ernie with a cone of cold. Again Dranko evades – and so does Aravis, using a charge from his ring of evasion. Grey Wolf is very nearly dead, his skin blue and covered with a frozen rime. At the same moment, Tai En targets Grey Wolf with insanity. Somehow, despite the beating that his body has taken, he finds the mental resolve to resist the assault on his mind.

    Tel Mek has flown over to Kibi, and while the Black Circle wizards are assaulting Grey Wolf, he’s slashing at Kibi with his black mace. He lands a perfect strike to the dwarf’s chest; the mace pulses with negative energy and saps strength from Kibi’s muscles even as it bruises his bones.

    While Flicker takes a bounding leap to Grey Wolf and force feeds him a curing potion, Dranko activates his sash of greater invisibility and unleashes a torrent of whip-strikes at the three elite fighters hovering around him. The first strike curls in beneath the visor of the enemy’s helm, pulping his face. The second and third strikes finish off a second, snapping his neck. Dranko grins at the third.

    “This is your opportunity to run. I suggest you take it.”

    “No!” shouts the fighter. “I will die in defense of the Circle, if I must.”

    “You sure will!” Dranko agrees.

    Cor Kek does a double-take as he looks at Dranko’s sash.

    “Miss Charagan?” he says, raising an incredulous eyebrow.

    “Look, I won fair and square!” Dranko retorts. “Though if you’d rather direct an attack or two to the dwarf over there, I’d be something in your debt.”

    Grey Wolf, somewhat healed by Flicker’s potion, pegs Cor Kek with another disintegrate. It gets through the target’s spell resistance, but the Grand Diviner takes only minor damage. Bostock chides his wielder.

    “Perhaps if you would make use of me, instead of resorting to spells, your situation would improve. I would say that…”

    “I’d like to kill you, Miss Charagan,” says Cor Kek, flying further upward, “But you know the old saying. ‘Kill the wizards first.’” Cor Kek quickens a heartclutch, and Aravis can feel his heart start to leap, literally, from his chest. The pain is staggering, but Aravis presses down, grits his teeth, and resists the deadly effect.

    “Fine, says Kek. “I’ll do this the old fashioned way.”

    He casts firestorm. The Merging Room is shot through with roaring flames and filled with the screams of the Company. When the flames recede, both Grey Wolf and Aravis have been burnt to charred corpses.

    “Wizards first,” Cor Kek says smugly. “But Dranko, you can be next.”

    But Morningstar is already thinking furiously over the mind-link, and at her urging, Ernie picks up Aravis’s much-lightened corpse and heaves it so that it lands next to Grey Wolf’s. Then he quickens a searing light that strikes harmlessly against Cor Kek’s armor.

    Cor Kek smiles. “I can see this will be quite satisfying.”

    Ernie’s face contorts in anger. “May everything you eat, for the rest of your life, turn to ashes in your mouth.”

    Dranko can’t help himself. “It’ll taste like our wizards!”

    “Dranko!” Ernie screams. He’s not in a joking mood.

    The surviving member of Tel Mek’s elites cannot see the invisible Dranko, but slashes through the air where his voice is coming from. Most of his swings go awry, but one lucky shot strikes the half-orc in the neck. “A ha!”

    Ten seconds gone now

    Kibi realizes that standing toe to toe with the Black Circle’s most fearsome warrior is not a good long-term strategy. He can feel malign and damaging energies pouring off of Tel Mek’s armor, but takes the chance, grits his teeth, and casts Otto’s irresistible dance.

    “Excuse me, sir,” Kibi says with a grimace, “but would you mind dancing for me, please?” He touches his enemy's armored foot.

    Tel Mek obliges. Still hovering, he starts to caper and prance, even managing some startling mid-air twirls and spins. His face turns red and he splutters with rage. “I’m going to KILL you for this!” he roars, but of course he can’t at the moment, because he’s executing a perfect jig.

    Kibi follows up with prismatic spray. Tel Mek resists being turned to stone. Three Quick Winks turns a sickly shade of green and drops dead on the spot from the poison in his veins. Kibi feels a backlash of pain as electricity, normally a prohibited element for Earth Mages, is forced out of his fingers; Mon Zat is still alive despite the horrible burns on the side of his head. Sen Pi is unable to resist the petrification ray, turns to rock, plummets, and breaks in half against the spike stones below.

    “Looks like you missed a wizard,” says Ernie.

    Kibi wastes no time, quickening a cone of cold that blasts the dancing Tel Mek and kills Mon Zat.

    While Kibi unleashes his arcane fury, Morningstar finishes turning the battle around. She flies to where Grey Wolf and Aravis’s corpses lie smoldering, quickens a revivify on Aravis, casts another on Grey Wolf, and finishes up with a mass heal. The wizards blink, returned from death and finding themselves at full health. Grey Wolf hears Bostock still yammering away in his head. “…swing me next time, assuming there IS a next time!”

    “Welcome back,” says Morningstar. Then, to Cor Kek, she says: “Maybe it should be clerics first.”

    “Mages!” yells Dranko. “See what you can do about keeping Cor Kek from escaping!”

    But the Black Circle’s top wizard is also still part of this fight. Tai En blasts a maximized cone of cold, unconcerned that Cor Kek is in its area. He follows up with a quickened ice storm. Again half the party is badly wounded, and Ernie drops unconscious as large chunks of ice slam into his head and shoulders. Dranko instinctively casts close wounds on the halfling, immediately bringing him back to consciousness.

    Aravis feels good. Really good. He realizes with a start that during his brief time spent dead, spells on his person that require a living target have ended, and that includes the energy drain! He pops off a see invisibility and then targets a greater dispel magic on Cor Kek. The Grand Diviner is suddenly stripped of fly, invisibility and spell resistance, along with some other minor enchantments. He falls, but lands atop the narrow wall and manages to keep his balance. Aravis then quickens a cone of cold, striking Cor Kek, Tai En and Tel Mek. None of them drop, and Cor Kek doesn’t seem injured by it at all. In fact, for all the sound and fury of the combat, Cor Kek is barely hurt. His energy immunities have prevented almost all the damage tossed his way. He still has some tricks up his sleeve, and is confident that he can still wrench the battle back to his side.

    Dranko moves quickly up to him, stepping easily on the narrow wall, readying his whip. Cor Kek is distracted enough that he doesn’t notice Flicker creeping up behind him.

    Over the mind-link, Dranko says a single word to his halfling ally.


    As Dranko lets loose a deadly barrage of whip strikes, Flicker leaps onto Cor Kek’s back and starts stabbing. As he stabs, he shifts his weight so that Cor Kek doesn’t fall off the wall before Dranko finishes his salvo. Cor Kek knows pain the likes of which he has never before endured, but he doesn’t know it for long. It only takes seconds for the pair of rogues to reduce Cor Kek’s head to a gushing ruin. His body falls lifeless off the wall.

    Only three enemies now remain: the wizard Tai En, the dancing warrior Tel Mek, and the last of Mek’s elite fighters, a young man named Kerwyn who has been hanging back from the fighting. Kerwyn cannot believe what has just happened: Cor Kek, torn apart by a half orc with a whip and a little halfling? Sen Pi, killed? Clavyn, Mon Zat, Winks, all dead? His entire squad destroyed? Tel Mek, the greatest warrior he has ever heard of, reduced to a ridiculous and helpless mid-air dance? At least Tai En is still alive…

    SPLOOSH! Grey Wolf targets Tai En with an acid orb that dissolves the poor wizard’s body right out of his robes. Kerwyn’s eyes grow even wider. He fumbles in his pocket before the rest of these deadly enemies’ attentions are turned upon him, and snaps a refuge token. He blinks out.

    That leaves only Tel-Mek, still twirling. As Dranko and Flicker move into position, Aravis gets a sending in his head.

    Rosetta has returned from her mission with vital news. The spire will convene at the Greenhouse in one hour. Please attend with your company. Cornelia.

    Aravis responds: We’re in the middle of killing Black Circle villains. Can we make that four hours?

    As Dranko and Flicker move into position around Tel Mek, another sending comes in. Four hours, or at your earliest convenience. Good luck!

    Tel Mek dies dancing; Flicker and Dranko rip him to pieces.

    Elapsed time: 18 seconds.

    …to be continued…

  7. #587
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    Simply awesome!

  8. #588
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagiro View Post
    Over the mind-link, Dranko says a single word to his halfling ally.


    As Dranko lets loose a deadly barrage of whip strikes, Flicker leaps onto Cor Kek’s back and starts stabbing. As he stabs, he shifts his weight so that Cor Kek doesn’t fall off the wall before Dranko finishes his salvo. Cor Kek knows pain the likes of which he has never before endured, but he doesn’t know it for long. It only takes seconds for the pair of rogues to reduce Cor Kek’s head to a gushing ruin. His body falls lifeless off the wall.
    Ah yes, just one of the MANY reasons I love this story hour!

  9. #589
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  10. #590
    Cool fight.

    But I'm kind of surprised that we're not seeing more save-or-die's getting tossed around. You know, wail of the banshee, chained flesh to stone, that kind of thing. Particularly nasty against low-Fort mages.

    Although if there is some kind of "the PCs won't use too many save-or-die's if the DM also doesn't" detente going on, then I applaud your collective restraint!

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