D&D 4th Edition My Dark Sun 4e Game Experience Updated 01/22/2013


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  1. #1
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    My Dark Sun 4e Game Experience Updated 01/22/2013

    This past Saturday, I ran my first session of Dark Sun 4e,
    and I must say it was great fun!

    I figured that I would use HS1: The Slaying Stone as a basis
    for the group’s 1st adventure in Dark Sun. Not only is it a pretty
    good adventure, but I also had a few new D&D players that this would make a
    great introductory adventure for. Of course, I had to slightly modify several
    of the encounters and factions in the module so that they would fit inside Dark
    Sun’s canon.

    The group consists of 5 party members:

    Dryder: An Elven Rogue who follows the Athasian Minstrel
    theme.

    Zanne: A Human Bard, also an Athasian Minstrel, who is a
    good friend of Dryder.

    Tor Val: A Half-Giant Barbarian and Gladiator

    Gundrek: A Mul Battlemind who was once a cell-mate to Tor
    Val in the Arena. Uses the Wilder theme.

    Katrie: An Elven Druid and Elemental Priest.

    After killing his master in an escape attempt from the Tyr
    arena, Gundrek decided to exile himself, hiding in the wilderness and smaller
    villages in the Tyr region. His hope is that now that there is no more slavery
    in Tyr, there will be no more reason to find escaped slaves. He decides to keep
    a low profile out of fear of retaliation for the death of his master and return
    to Tyr.

    Katrie is also an exile from her tribe. For as long as she
    can remember, she has heard the call of the primordial spirits, many begging to
    be healed from the torment that the Defilers have imposed on them. After
    refusing to join in her family’s “business” (a racketeering scheme that her
    father and brothers had set up in Urik), Katrie was banished from her tribe.
    She wanders into Tyr, hoping for work.

    I would post the other backgrounds here, but the 3 monkeys
    playing these characters haven’t provided them yet.

    The party meets when they answer the call for a group of
    guards to escort a caravan to Nibenay. Treona is the caravan master, and she is
    hoping to get her last shipment of iron sold before there is none left (the
    iron mines are closed). Sadly, Gundreks’ player was being a slacker and decided
    to go out to eat with his family instead of gaming with the rest of us geeks.
    Something about a birthday (insert eye-roll here). So, I had to cast Polymorph
    NPC on his character. And since I was running him as an NPC, I’m quite certain
    that he wasn’t as effective as he could have been.

    The first half of the journey is completely uneventful. The
    party gets to know each other, trading tales of past adventures. However, on
    the 4th day of the trip (which lasts a week, usually), they are
    ambushed by a pack of Jhakar. Treona stays back with the caravan while the party leads the
    ravenous monsters away. Tor Val valiantly wades into the fray, charging one of
    the Jhakar and smashing it with his massive maul. But soon, the rest of the
    pack descends upon him, bloodying and nearly killing him in the first exchange.
    Katrie, in her primordial cat form, makes several unsuccessful attempts to
    distract the Jhakar attacking Tor Val, but the dice are not being kind to her.
    Luckily, Dryder jumped in with the assist and was able to distract the Jhakar
    enough so that Zanne could shout a Majestic Word at Tor Val, which allowed him
    to shift away from the worst of the trouble. Gundrek then stepped into the fray
    with his Trikal and his Battlemind’s Demand. Tor Val was out of danger for the
    moment.

    Tor Val again charges, smashing another one and soundly
    killing it. Katrie, now in trouble from the Jhakar she was trying to distract,
    summons her Giant Toad, who pulls the Jhakar away and happily begins munching
    on it (we are going to have to find a name for that Toad)

    The party makes swift work of the last of them, then returns
    to the caravan. Sadly, Treona’s personal guards died fighting off a second
    group of Jhakar, but at least Treona was safe.

    Several days later, the group arrives in Nibenay. Treona, pleased
    with the group, pays them their escort fee, then tells them to meet her at one
    of the inns in the Merchant quarter after sunset.

    The party uses their newly acquired wealth to purchase
    weapons and supplies, and then heads to the inn.

    There, the group meets Treona and her friend Allkirk. Treona
    explains that she has another job for the group. However, she is unable to pay
    them in gold, but assures them that Allkirk would be willing to grant a favor
    from the organization he works for. Allkirk then covers the lower half of his
    face and waits to gauge their reactions (they all rolled horribly on their
    History check, so none of them were able to determine that he was Veiled
    Alliance). Allkirk angrily admonishes Treona for sending such a group of
    amateurs. Treona responds that the group is quite capable and would be ideal
    for this mission.

    Treona then reveals the story about a small city named Kiris
    Dahn. Nestled in the Black Spine Mountains, Kiris Dahn is an unusual phenomenon
    in such a dead world. Located in an idyllic valley, the town gets a fair amount
    of run-off from the snow in the upper part of the mountains, which collects in
    a small lake. The land here is fertile and rich, and due to the size of the
    Black Spine Mountains, the town gets a fair amount of shade in the early
    morning and late afternoon. Due to its location, the city was relatively hidden
    until a few years ago. A Slaver Tribe somehow found out about the town and
    attacked, enslaving many townsfolk and forcing the rest to flee.

    Among those that fled were Treona and her sister Dreus. Both
    knew the secret held in the city, and both knew that the town Wise-man hid that
    secret somewhere within the town. Only recently did Treona discover the means
    to locate this secret.

    Treona wants the group to find a magical artifact known as
    The Slaying Stone. She tells them that it is an extremely dangerous defiling
    artifact that absolutely must be destroyed. She then warns them that her sister
    Dreus may also be seeking this artifact. Then she reveals that Dreus is now one
    of the Templar wives of the Shadow King. If she were to find the stone, then
    she would gain considerable favor with Nibenay.

    After much deliberation from the party, they agree to travel
    to Kiris Dahn and retrieve the Slaying Stone. Treona gives them 3 ritual
    scrolls and ritual components that will allow them to find the stone, and
    assures the group that she is only interested in the stone; anything else they
    find is theirs for the taking. She reluctantly provides them with mounts and
    supplies, and the party departs for the Black Spine Mountains.

    The journey through the desert is difficult, but they
    finally arrive at the hidden pass to the valley where Kiris Dahn resides (the group
    went through a skill challenge to survive the desert and find their way to the
    hidden pass; they did well for the most part, but fail a couple of crucial
    checks, thereby losing a couple of healing surges). There, they witness the
    arrival of a mercenary band called The Severed Eyes. Dryder crosses the nearby
    creek and scouts ahead, easily using the late afternoon shadows to hide his
    presence. He is able to find a farmhouse on the eastern side of town that the
    group can use as a base, and the party hides in there while Dryder continues
    his reconnaissance. Dryder witnesses a group of Silt Striders digging through
    the rubble of a nearby building, looking for something. He decides to skip the
    building and move on, sneaking to the next building. While searching the
    building, he sees a group of slavers harassing the Silt Striders he saw
    earlier. Remaining hidden, he watches as the two groups have a heated exchange.
    Then, finally, the slavers move on, leaving the Silt Striders to their search.

    Dryder returns to the group and discusses his findings. The
    group decides that the city would make an ideal base of operations if it could
    be cleared out, but agree to wait until after they find the stone and destroy
    it. Hoping to avoid the majority of the population there, the group travels
    north from the farmhouse, hiding in the trees and vegetation. (The Skill Challenge went extremely well
    for the party, having almost all successes before making any failures, so
    moving through the city at this point was quite simple)

    Soon, they come upon the hot springs. Finding a nearby bath
    house, the party descends and discovers a ghostly guardian. After asking who
    they were and what they were doing there (and getting lied to), the guardian
    tells them that he is the keeper of the stone. He gives the stone to the Druid
    because he trusts her to destroy it, thereby freeing him. But he warns that
    they must not use the stone and that they must destroy it; he would know of its
    destruction since he is linked to it.

    The party leaves the bath house and witnesses the Severed
    Eyes mercenaries accosting a group of slavers and interrogating them, asking
    where the stone was. The slavers are unable to give a satisfactory answer, so
    the slavers brand the image of an eye on the slaver’s foreheads before leaving.

    The party decides to escape back the way they came, only to
    run into a Silt Strider named Speelock, who had two strange stone wolves
    guarding him. Speelock, thinking they were slavers, immediately attacks, sending
    a psionic shockwave at the group, then throwing a vial of foul liquid at Dryder.
    One of the strange stone wolves rushes to attack the group while the other
    guards Speelock.

    Soon, the purpose of the foul liquid becomes clear; an
    Ankheg burrows from under the ground and attacks Dryder (the vial contained
    pheromones). Tor Val and Katrie jump in,
    trying to fight off the Ankheg while Dryder and Gundrek take care of Speelock
    and his guardians. Zanne waits behind the party to heal them if needed.

    It isn't long before the Ankheg is hurting. Grabbing Katrie, he tries to
    flee the group and bring her back to his lair. Tor Val swiftly charges in and
    makes quick work of it. Meanwhile, Gundrek and Dryder finish off
    Speelock and his guardians, and the group wastes no time in fleeing.

    The combat attracted attention, however. The party moves as fast
    as they can through the forest in an effort to avoid patrols, all while the
    slavers and mercenaries mount a search for them. Soon, the party escapes the
    city and head back to Nibenay to return the stone.

    But what none of them know is that the Severed Eyes have
    found their trail. While the party rests and recovers, the mercenaries make
    their way ahead of them, ambushing them the following day. A fierce battle
    ensues.

    Only Katrie and Zanne are unsurprised as Vohx and his
    companions spring their trap. Moving to advantageous positions, Vohx offers the
    party quarter of they give him the stone. The party refuses (of course), so
    Vohx orders them killed.
    This was a tough battle. Since the party skipped most of the
    encounters (and therefore loot) within Kiris Dahn, they were vastly
    underpowered. Fortunately for them, the dice roller was not being kind to me.
    Vohx throws his chain, binding Tor Val and effectively
    preventing him from doing his charge and smash thing that he does so well.
    Gundrek moves beside Tor Val to help keep the mercenaries from overwhelming
    him, while Dryder and Katrie try to prevent the enemy Shaman from causing too
    much havoc. Zanne is busy trying to keep Tor Val and Gundrek buffed, but it is
    soon clear that the group is in trouble when Tor Val fails to break free of the
    chains (he spent 2 rounds immobilized…a bad state for a Barbarian), and then
    more so when Gundrek takes enough damage to fall to 0 hitpoints (Zanne had to
    use his two Majestic Words on Tor Val and Gundrek). Meanwhile, Katrie and
    Dryder take out the enemy shaman, but are soon nearly overwhelmed when Vohx
    attacks them.

    Finally, the party kills Vohx. With only two of the mercenaries
    left, the party strongly suggests that they surrender. Tor Val (with his
    massive scariness) eventually convinces them that surrendering is a good idea.

    The party learns from their interrogation that the Severed
    Eyes were hired by Dreus to find the Slaying Stone. When the mercenaries
    discovered that the party had snuck into town, they used their Cilops (a one
    eyed, centipede-like creature) to track them down and setup an ambush. They
    also learn that the mercenaries had sent one of their number back to Dreus to
    let her know what they found, and left one of their number back in Kiris Dahn
    in case the party returned. Tor Val and Dryder then swiftly finish them off (I
    wasn’t happy about this, but hey…the party are all Unaligned). They then loot
    the bodies for Survival days and find their first magic item; a very useful Bag
    of Holding.

    They depart. Several days later, they arrive back at Nibenay and hand Treona the
    Slaying Stone. She and Allkirk destroy the artifact, and the party basks in
    their success.

    Since they successfully completed the main quest, I granted
    them the story reward for that. Also, they had gained just enough experience
    from the encounters and skill challenges that they were just short of 2nd
    level. So, I granted them a role-playing reward for a job well-done. Now, they
    are discussing the next step in their conquest of Kiris Dahn.

    Things I learned:

    Barbarians can do GROSS amounts of damage….and I do mean
    disgusting. Couple that with the Bard’s Focused Sound encounter power (grants a
    crit on 18-20), and you are looking at one hit kills.

    Druids can be fun and can lock an enemy down quite simply….if
    the dice work for them.

    Bards are interesting leaders. Their ability to heal and
    move the party makes for some very nice team-work.

    This I already knew, but I am still sometimes surprised how easily a smart party can derail plans. Improvise, improvise, improvise!

    Favorite quotes from the session:

    “It’s almost like Christmas! He keeps moving away.” –Tor Val
    to the rest of the party as the Ankheg tries to flee him.

    “Elven craftsmanship? Since when did Elves know how to craft
    anything?” – Zanne to the Elven Merchant.
    Last edited by Raunalyn; Tuesday, 22nd January, 2013 at 07:32 PM.

  2. #2
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    Waghalter (Lvl 7)



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    Session 2

    Gundrek's player was able to attend this session, but the Bard was not. So we had to NPC him for the day. My strategy for this was to allow the party to control him through a communal vote; they would decide what powers he used, and who he would heal during the combats, but for all intents and purposes, I rolled his attacks and saves.

    The group gathers in Nibenay to determine the next step in their conquest of Kiris Dahn. Unsure as to how many slavers occupy the village, the party is reluctant to do a full on frontal assault. Treona offers a suggestion; scout the village out, determine how many slavers occupy the town, and she would do what she could to influence her Veiled Alliance contacts to send help. The group agrees that this is an adequate compromise and return to Kiris Dahn.

    Over the course of the next 10 days, the party observes and hides in the village and countryside around the village. This is a secret extended skill challenge that utilizes Stealth (to go unnoticed), Perception (to catch pertinent details), and Nature (to forage and to assist with covering their campsites and tracks). Unknown to the party, though, was that their failures did not go unnoticed. During this time, the group agrees to hide in the Bath House where, previously, they had encountered the stone's Guardian. Katrie informs the Guardian of the destruction of the stone. The guardian is grateful and allows the group to remain in the Bath House. Since none of the slavers in the village are willing to enter the Bath House due to the presence of the Guardian, the group decides that this is an ideal hiding spot.

    The Stone's Guardian informs the group that a defiler is hiding somewhere in the village, and that this vile magic user is somehow preventing the Guardian from passing on to the Grey (Athas' afterlife). He asks the party to find and kill this defiler, and in return, he would reward them. The group agrees that this is a good idea.

    Their scouting reveals several interesting details. There is a small group of Silt Striders that hides in the slum area of the village. Due to the bullying and such of the Slavers, the Silt Striders only come out at night. Also, the slaves outnumber the slavers, so the slavers only allow a few slaves out at a time. It appears as if the slavers are trying to fortify and repair the village; both the Mansion and one large building near the center of the village have scaffolding and obvious repairs. They witness the last of the Severed Eyes mercenaries swaggering through the city, a Tarek named Krayd. She bullies and pushes her way through the slavers, arriving at the Mansion and disappearing inside for a time, only to leave later and return to her quarters. They also see the leader of the slavers, Hu-Jat, move about the village on his rage drake, giving orders and recommendations on what needs to be built and fortified.

    Once the party was able to obtain enough reconnaissance, they use Katrie's Animal Messenger ritual to send their information to Treona. The following day, they receive their reply through a Sending ritual; help is on the way. Treona offers 10 mercenaries to assist the group, and the party begins formulating a plan.

    Gathering a large number of makeshift clubs, the party and mercenaries split into two teams; Team 1, the mercenaries, will infiltrate the village from the west end, freeing and arming as many slaves as they can, and then causing a riot. Team B, the party, would use the ensuing chaos as a distraction and move into the Mansion from the east in order to cripple the leadership of the slavers.

    Unfortunately, as the two groups move into position, the mercenaries are ambushed by the waiting slavers (remember those skill failures I mentioned earlier? Yeah...there you go). A fierce battle ensues as the Mercenaries try to free as many slaves as they can.

    Meanwhile, the party moves into the mansion, only to be attacked my Hu-Jat, his Rage Drake, and his retinue.

    Katrie summons her Fire Hawk, swiftly killing one of the minions, while Zanne kills the other. Gundrek moves forward toward the entrance of the mansion just as Hu-Jat and his Rage Drake charge. The Rage Drake attempts to claw Gundrek with his Raking Claws attack (two melee claw attacks while charging). The first soundly hits Gundrek, who then uses his Persistent Harrier power to teleport behind Hu-Jat and his Rage Drake, causing the second attack to miss. Tor Val charges Hu-Jat, but is unable to hit. Then, from deeper in the mansion, 2 more of Hu-Jat's retinue appear, so Dryder, Katrie and Zanne focus their abilities on the newcomers while Tor Val and Gundrek hold off Hu-Jat and his drake. Gundrek marks Hu-Jat and his mount with an augmented Battlemind's demand, Hu-Jat focuses all of their attacks on Gundrek, dropping him to bloodied status. Unknown to the group, the third of Hu-Jat's retinue sneaks behind Gundrek and hits him hard, knocking him unconscious. Tor Val then shouts in triumph as he hits Hu-Jat with a mighty blow, only to be horrified as Hu-Jat shifts his drake, causing the critical hit to strike it instead. Katrie uses Grasping Claws on one of Hu-Jat's warriors, immobilizing him and preventing him from assisting his master. Dryder fights off the second warrior while Zanne rushes to help Gundrek with a Majestic Word. The group finishes off two of Hu-Jat's warriors and decides to focus fire on the Drake.

    Soon, it is down to just Hu-Jat and the party. Dryder uses a Poisoned Strike, which causes Hu-Jat to fall prone on his next attack. Knowing what would happen if he tried to stand with everyone surrounding him, Hu-Jat tries to fight from the ground. What ensues is a humorous round of bad die rolls from Hu-Jat and the party. Finally, though, the party is victorious, just in time to see a sickly green ball of fire explode in the Southwest part of the village. After swiftly looting Hu-Jat (for a nice suit of Bestial Hide Armor +1 that Tor Val was VERY pleased to get), the party rushes south in order to help the mercenaries.

    Unfortunately, they run into Krayd the Butcher just as she is cheerfully dismembering several escaped slaves. Seeing them approach, she hefts her obsidian greataxe and attacks.

    Gundrek moves first. He rushes forward and uses his Living Fortess Daily, then marks Krayd with his Battlemind's Demand. Using the debris and dust from Gundrek's power as cover, Katrie moves forward and attacks Krayd with a Fire Hawk. Zanne then sets up the rest of the group to do major damage to Krayd with an Echoing Thunder. Tor Val then charges forward and nails Krayd, followed closely by Dryder's sneak attack. Krayd shrugs off the damage and laughs, unleashing her fury. With a mighty swing, she strikes Tor Val, dazing him, and immediately turns and attacks Dryder, but misses. Gundrek's Mind Spike is triggered, and Krayd finds that the damage she just did to Tor Val is reflected back at her. She spends an Action Point and spins around, swinging her axe like a whirlwind. Again, she hits Tor Val, but misses Dryder and Gundrek. Gundrek deals a hefty blow to Krayd, and then Katrie decides to summon her toad, who attacks Krayd and begins munching on one of her legs. But, it is after Tor Val and Dryder team up and attack Krayd again when she starts getting worried. Bloodied and near death, she again swings her axe, killing the Toad, bloodying Tor Val and barely missing Dryder. But her desperate attack triggers Gundrek's Mind Spike, and she falls to the ground dead.

    The party has a brief debate on whether or not to take a quick 5 minute rest or to continue on to the south, where they see the battle still raging. After deciding on the quick rest, they watch with concern as the battle winds down, then ends. Running to the scene, they notice quite a few slaves dead, and several of the mercenaries as well. Fortunately, they also discover a good number of slavers either dead or dying. Seeing activity at the gate house, they move south to engage.

    This is by far the party's most difficult encounter to date. 2 wooden guard towers stand nestled within a small cluster of buildings. A small patrol of Slaver Guards roams the streets in front of the towers, and a couple of archers watch, ready, for any trouble that might come their way. Immediately, one of the guards on the street notices the group and shouts an alarm, rushing forward to meet them. Dryder moves behind one of the buildings and hides, hoping to use his stealth to make a surprise attack. Katrie runs forward and shifts into beast form, using Grasping Claws to lock down the guard. Meanwhile, the other guard hears the commotion and runs to assist his companion. The Archer in the east tower fires at Zanne, nearly killing him. Dazed, Zanne uses a Majestic Word on himself, stumbling back. Tor Val then charges forward, slamming into the guard Katrie has locked down and getting a critical hit. Immediately, he hits again with his Rampage attack, killing the guard almost instantly. Gundrek moves forward to engage the second guard, but is targeted by the second archer from the west tower, and is dazed. Immediately, he uses his Persistant Harrier encounter power and appears behind the archer who just hit him. The archer, surprised, knows he cannot attack Gundrek with ranged weapons in such tight quarters, so he drops his crossbow and pulls out a club.

    Meanwhile, Katrie begins attacking the second guard, locking him down with a Grasping Claws. Dryder sneaks behind the guard and hits him with a Sneak Attack. The guard retaliates, hitting Dryder hard. Seeing his companion in trouble, the archer attacks Dryder as well. Zanne uses his second Majestic Word and heals Dryder, pulling him out of immediate danger. Tor Val charges the eastern tower and starts attacking one of the support beams, hoping to knock the tower down.

    Unknown to the party, the Guard House Group's leader, an elite defiler mage, is creeping behind one of the buildings to flank the party. As Tor Val breaks one of the support beams of the eastern tower, the mage attacks, targetting Dryder with a bolt of black lightning (does Necrotic and Lightning damage), causing the grass around him to shrivel and die. Gundrek, unaware of the danger his companions are in, shrugs off the daze effect he is under (gotta love that Mul resilience) and begins attacking the archer, who is doing a poor job of defending himself. Below, Katrie rushes to attack the defiler, forgetting the guard she is locking down. Dryder also moves to attack the defiler, attacking him with his Poisoned Strike. Tor Val charges, slamming the defiler and bloodying him. The defiler, sensing his danger, teleports away from the group and turns, draining the plantlife around him of life as he casts a fireball. The blast catches Tor Val, Katrie, Dryder and Zanne in the area of effect. Only Tor Val remains standing. The second guard, no longer immobilized, charges Tor Val, dropping him into negative hit points.

    Gundrek, seeing his companions in serious trouble, jumps down from the guard tower (receiving an OA that misses for his troubles) and charges the defiler. His attack kills the mage, and then Gundrek rushes over to his companions, hoping to save them before they die. The guard who dropped Tor Val, seeing his leader fall and an angry Mul rushing to attack him, realizes that in his injured condition, he would be unlikely to survive. So, he cuts his losses and runs. The archer in the West tower, also seeing his leader die, decides to run as well. That only leaves the guard in the east tower, who tries to move into a more advantageous position.

    Gundrek does a heal check on Katrie, which allows her to use a healing surge. Between the two of them, they quickly revive their companions and rush to kill off the last archer. Exhausted, the group hides, barricading themselves in a nearby home. They begin making plans to finish off any stragglers in the town.

    This session was pretty tough. The pacing of it allowed me to slowly weaken the party and force them to use resources. The last encounter was EL+4, so it was really difficult and almost resulted in a TPK. I don't hide my dice rolls, so they all were able to see just how bad things were everytime I rolled. Luckily, Gundrek was out of the area of effect of the Fireball and rolled really well on his heal check, so I give him the MVP award for the night for coming through and saving the party's collective ****. Tor Val did the most damage (big surprise there), and Katrie was extremely effective in locking down her opponents (the dice were kind to her).

    Favorite Quote: "Hold still; I'm trying to hit you here!! Really, I only want to kill you a little bit!" - Tor Val to Hu-Jat as the latter rolls around on the ground trying to avoid the big scary half-giant with the shovel.

  3. #3
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    Session 3

    After a much needed rest that night, the group has a quick debate to determine the fate of Kiris Dahn. Do they try to maintain the city, or should they give the city over to the Veiled Alliance? The latter option seems to be the consensus, with the hope that they can receive a lucrative deal for their services.

    It is late afternoon when the party emerges from their hideout and begin doing a quick sweep of the city in the hope that they can wipe out any stragglers. There, they meet a small group of freed slaves led by a one-armed Mul named Tenpug. Using weapons and equipment they had found throughout the village, the small band had decided to fortify themselves in a well defended stockade they had setup during the day. After meeting the group, Gundrek, Tor Val and Dryder proceed to convince Tenpug and his band to remain in the village and to do what they could to prevent any remaining slavers from trying to escape. Tenpug agrees that this is a reasonable idea and promises to do what he can with his small group to prevent any slavers from escaping the village. He also gives them some information about those slavers that he knows are remaining in the village. He knows that one of the Slaver's defilers, Rort, has barricaded himself with a small retinue within the library. He also knows of a band of slavers roaming the village looking for something, but he can't specify where.

    The party moves north, searching the ruins of the inn and mansion and picking up any treasure they may have missed. They find the barracks and discover the weapons cache for the slavers, including obsidian longswords, spears and leather armor. The group agrees that this cache would benefit Tenpug's band, so they leave them alone.

    Soon they find a ruined shrine devoted to one of Athas' moons, Guthay. Within, they find a lone and frightened hermit. After calming him down, they discover that his name is Hoyt, and he is one of the original inhabitants of Kiris Dahn. He explains that what had happened to the village was his fault, and he was cursed.

    Hoyt was one of the creators of the Slaying Stone, and when the slavers first attacked the hidden village, he was the one that used it. The resulting catastrophe forced the villagers to flee the village before they, too, were destroyed. Since then, Hoyt has remain hidden in the ruins, stealing food when he could from the slavers, and killing any of the slavers who found him. When the party asks about the curse, Hoyt only says that "bad things" happen to him and those around him.

    At this point, a slaver named Triflik and his group of guards bursts into the ruins, having watched the group enter the shrine earlier. The group begins attacking the characters, but when Triflik sees Hoyt with them, he orders his guards to attack the hermit. Hoyt then screams in fear and agony and suddenly transforms to something out of a nightmare. He grows almost a foot taller, and his arms grow long and emaciated, his fingers growing razor sharp claws of obsidian.

    Dryder and Tor Val try to kill and distract Triflik while Katrie and Zanne attempt to calm Hoyt. Gundrek holds off the slavers pouring in from the northern door.

    This fight was sadly way too easy for the group. This was, partually, because I was using the old MM damage expressions as opposed to the MM3. The other part was that since I don't hide my die rolls from the players, it was almost comical when I rolled 2 misses in a row, and when I finally did hit, it was for minimal damage....twice in a row. And then, further mistakes on my part as I forget to use an ability of the minions they were fighting that allowed them to stay up until the end of their next round when they are dropped to 0 hitpoints.

    Too soon, the battle is over. Sadly, they are unable to calm Hoyt, and the party is forced to kill him when his berserker rage causes him to attack the group. As Hoyt finally falls, a rush of wind erupts from his body. The party discovers that Hoyt was the cause of the Guardian Spirit's captivity, and with his death, the spirit was now free.

    Dryder gets a nice, new shiny metal longsword for their efforts, and they all decide to move on.

    Returning to the bath-house, they learn that the spirit is now gone, and it has left a gift; a totem for Katrie.

    They move south to the Library. In there, they discover Rort and his band. Immediately, Rort orders his guards to attack.

    Luckily, the party goes before Rort can cause too much trouble. Dryder, Gundrek, Katrie and Zanne try to hold off the guards while Tor Val rushes in to take out Rort. But, it is then that Rort defiles the ground around him, summoning 3 gray oozes. Soon, Tor Val is in serious trouble. Meanwhile, Dryder is faced with trying to fend off the guards, and he takes multiple hits (level 2 minions). Soon, he is bloodied. Fortunately, Gundrek pulls him out of the worst of the danger and moves to a more advantageous position in order to stop the guards from swarming the group (I like how Gundrek is learning his character and figuring out the best place to be in situations. He did a really good job as a defender this session). He uses a Concussive Spike to knock Rort prone and force the 3 oozes away from Tor Val. Katrie summons her Toad into the room, which proceeds to eat one of the guards. Soon, the battle is over, and the group grabs several tomes so that they can return them to Treona in Nibenay.

    This combat went a bit better. It was still a little easier than I would have liked, but the cramped quarters mixed with the minion swarm was pretty effective in nickle-ing and dime-ing the party. Zanne had to use both of his Majestic Words to keep Tor Val and Dryder up, though.

    Soon, the entire town is liberated. The group returns to Tenpug and informs him of their success. He is grateful for the weapons and supplies, and he lets them know that his group was successful in preventing any of the slavers from escaping.

    This last part of the session was actually my favorite. There was a ton of role-playing involved and serious discussion and negotiation. Sadly, it was also interrupted several times by Gundrek's player losing connection multiple times, my computer getting a BSOD close to the end of the session, and wind knocking out power lines near my house.

    The group returns to Nibenay and meets up with Treona, letting her know of their success. She promises to contact her Veiled Alliance superiors and, from there, work up a deal for the village.

    A few days later, the party begins negotiating the rights to the village. Attending are Treona, Allkirk, and a new person they had not met; the leader of a small merchant house named Marius Amketch. They hammer out a deal that will leave the party quite wealthy, as well as provide the group with a few magic items every few levels for free. Marius, who is backing the Veiled Alliance in this purchase, offers the group a position in his merchant house.

    I was a bit concerned about giving the players too much, too soon. Dark Sun is notorious for having fewer resources, but the party was adamant about not wanting favors or services on credit; they wanted something substantial up front. They were threatening to bring their offer to other merchant houses, and for the sake of future adventures and campaign direction, I gave in a little. I was a bit worried about balance, so I decided to give them a promise of magic items every few levels, and a monthly monetary allowance. By the time the group reaches paragon level, they will have received the full monetary allotment for the village. Also, this helps me with parcel deployment in future adventures; they won't be getting as many magic items from parcels.

    Favorite Quote:
    "You guys are all cool in my book, but you, sir, take us for idiots." - Dryder to Allkirk as they negotiate their price.

    Next session: The Merchant House of Amketch.

  4. #4
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    In prep for my next few sessions, I was thinking about the Cerebral Parasites that play so prominently in the 2e Dark Sun module The Merchant House of Amketch. I realized that this would best be handled by the 4e disease track.

    So, here's my attempt at it. If anyone has feedback or suggestions, please comment. Any ideas are welcome and appreciated.

    Cerebral Parasites - Psionic parasites infest the brains of psychically proficient individuals.

    Level 6 disease
    Attack: +9 vs Fortitude

    Endurance Check: Improve DC 20, Maintain DC 16, Worsen DC 15 or lower.

    Stage 0: Target is cured
    Stage 1: Initial effect. Player loses half of their Power Points.
    Stage 2: Target loses all Power Points
    Stage 3: Target loses access to Daily Powers

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    First off, thanks for the write-up. Sounds like a really fun game!

    I would also like to propose a slight change to the Cerebral Parasites track. I don't know your players, but I would really hate losing almost all class abilities and becoming reduced to at-will and hoping the next endurance check works out.

    Perhaps a disincentive to use the stronger powers rather than a complete removal?

    Stage 0: Target is cured.
    Stage 1: Initial effect. Each time the target uses a power point he suffers 5 points of psychic damage.
    Stage 2: The damage for using power points increases to 10. In addition, whenever the target is reduced to 0 power points he grants combat advantage to all enemies.
    Stage 3: Whenever the target uses a Daily attack power he also loses a healing surge. If he had no healing surges to lose, he instead takes damage equal to half his bloodied hitpoint value.

    In this way the PC can still contribute, but at a steep cost. What do you think?

  6. #6
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    I really like your idea, Hof! Thanks so much for posting your thoughts.

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    Wow, you are a great story teller. I wish you DM'd for me.

  8. #8
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    Dark Sun: Sessions 14 and 15

    Before further venturing into the city, the group decides to return to the surface to rest up and get supplies. Also, they realize that perhaps they should check in with Allkirk, Treona and Marius Amketch. Upon arriving at Kiris Dahn, they send a message to Allkirk, then spend the rest of the time resupplying. They also take a good sum of the money they have accumulated to pay Tenpug and his band for both their services and their assistance in the previous battle.

    The next day, they receive a message from Allkirk. He is very interested in this city that the group has discovered and wishes to send along an assistant to help the party. They also discover that the templars in Nibenay have suddenly and inexplicably begun to find and capture Veiled Alliance members. Allkirk is in hiding, and Treona is not to be found. Several days later, they encounter their newest member, a Half-Elven female Bard named Pa Mela. The group and the Bard do not hit it off too well.

    Soon after upgrading some of their magical items and resupplying, the group (plus a bard) return the the underground city. Before moving in, though, Kratas asks the group to wait while he investigates something they saw on their way.

    Next to the entryway into the underground city, the party discovers a smaller area, domelike, with a series of runes and patterns on the floor. Kratas does an Arcana check and discovers that the runes, and indeed the entire dome they are in, has an otherworldly resonance. Noting this, the group heads to the city.

    As they approach the entry archway, they are suddenly attacked. Several spirits wielding glowing silver swords rushes to attack them from a nearby guardhouse.

    This fight was interesting. These were customized creatures called Sword Spirits, and they came in two flavors; a long sword spirit and a two-handed sword spirit. I had realize that, while the encounters that the party had been fighting so far were challenging, I was afraid that they weren't challenging enough. So, I increased the difficulty of the encounters down here. The Longsword spirits used displacement to frustrate the party, while the Two-Handed spirits used devastating area attacks while being extremely mobile. The fight was intense, but not extraordinarily difficult. Soon, the spirits are gone, and the swords they were wielding fall to the ground, no longer glowing.

    As the dust settles, Pa Mela apologizes to the party for her earlier antagonism. Realizing that this was a well organized and dangerous group of people, she confesses that her original impression of the group was from Allkirk. Mistakenly believing that the party was a group of amateurs, she treated them as such. The group is not pleased to discover this little bit of information and vow to discuss this with Allkirk when they next meet. The six of them then continue.

    The city beneath the Black Spine mountains is like nothing ever seen before. Bridges and archways span the streets. The buildings are curved; no angles ot straight lines grace the habitats. Each building grows upward, and the Bard determines that it is evident that the more wealthy members of the city lived on the upper floors. Likely, there were some members of the city's elite that never once set foot on the ground level of the city. The stonework is nearly flawless. Pa Mela and Kratas determine that the buildings were carved using a combination of magic and metal tools. They decide that the central spire, which has no bridges linking to it, would be where the leader of the city would probably reside. In other words, if there was treasure to be found, that was likely the best place to look. They begin crossing the city, moving across the vegetation-choked rooftops.

    Soon, they encounter a group of large lizards. To their horror, they discover that these are Basilisks.

    This fight turned out to be extremely difficult. Some of the basilisks had the ability to mark their enemies, while the rest were the traditional type. I wasn't expecting this fight to be this difficult, but unfortunately for the group, the dice decided that they would not be kind. I did not expect some of the players to fail 3 saving throws...

    Tor Val and Gundrek move to the front, hoping to prevent the basilisks from striking at the rear of the party. Katrie and Dryder then wade in, attacking one of the psionic basilisks. At this point, one of the basilisks uses his gaze attack, hitting Katrie, Tor Val and Gundrek (and one of the psionic basilisks). Tor Val uses one of his Barbarian powers to shrug off the immobility. Gundrek, and later Dryder, are not so lucky. They fail all three of their saving throws (over 3 rounds, of course) and are petrified. Katrie fails two of her saves, but is fortunate enough to make her third. Katrie, desperate, summons HypnoToad (All Glory to the HypnoToad!!) to help take up the slack. It is when one of the basilisks attacks HypnoToad that the party realizes that the fight is won. True to history and form, HypnoToad crits with his very next attack, and between him, Pa Mela, Tor Val, Kratas and Katrie, they mop of the last of the creatures. Realizing that they had no way to cure their petrified party members, they decide to head back to Kiris Dahn and hope that they can find a cure. Pa Mela uses a Tenser's Floating Disk ritual to carry the two of them, and they head back to the surface.

    Arriving back in Kiris Dahn several days later, the group is relieved to find Treona, safe, and deep into research on a way to discover the dangerous artifact that is confined beneath Kiris Dahn. She readily agrees to cast a ritual to cure Dryder and Gundrek, and then explains some of what she is researching. Realizing that the Eye of Abalach-Re is a very powerful defiling artifact, Treona theorizes that powerful Preservation magic could destroy it. Only one type of creature has that type of power; an Avangion. She also explains that her sister, Dreus, is the one behind the attacks on the Veiled Alliance members in Nibenay, but she is unsure how Dreus is coming across her knowledge.

    Kratas, during this time, purchases a Remove Affliction scroll for future use, and then moves off to do some research of his own. Realizing the strength in magic, Kratas decides to find a way to use this power to further enhance his own abilities. He secretly makes a pact with powerful outside forces to grant him the ability to use magic. This transformation begins slowly, while the party decends back into the underground city.

    (Side Note: The player running Kratas wished to make several changes to his character. He wanted to keep Kratas, but also wanted to play something slightly more interesting, and that also kept in line with how he eventually envisioned his character arc. As a house rule, I allow a single character re-write for each player. This allows for inexperience and mistakes they made originally in creation. Retraining is still a viable solution, but once they re-write their character, they are stuck with it until the character dies. The player running Kratas decides to re-write him as a hybrid Ardent/Warlock. The new character will be implemented next session.)

    The party returns to the underground city. Eventually, they are forced to get down from the rooftops and approach the central spire from the streets. It is then that they are attacked by a Behir.

    This fight was tough. Not only were the dice rolling horrible for them, but I was hitting on almost every single attack. This was a younger Behir, which is a level 12 solo, but it was still extremely difficult for the party to hit him.

    After breathing lightning on the group (and dazing a few), the behir attacks Tor Val, swallowing him. While Tor Val attempts to escape, Dryder, Katrie and Kratas try to attack the behir, hoping that they can force it to release Tor Val. Gundrek marks the creature, but is unable to hit it. Tor Val, after taking a small amount of damage from being munched on, succeeds on his escape check. Meanwhile, Pa Mela casts a Stirring Shout on the creature, which grants a small amount of hitpoints whenever an ally hits the behir. Soon after, she casts Vigorous Cadence, which grants a small amount of hitpoints the first time the behir makes an attack. So, essentially, whenever anyone hits the behir, they get healed. And, whenever the behir attacks anyone, they get healed. Bard=Good Times.

    The behir attacks Gundrek and devours him. It is at this time that the fun begins. Gundrek as used Mind Spike maybe twice since character creation. However, since the behir was marked and had devoured Gundrek, it was free to attack everyone else. Which triggered the Mind Spike. After a good bit of laughter from the party, the behir decides to spit Gundrek out, throwing him into a small area of vegetation...which then proceeds to attack Gundrek and immobilizes him. Katrie summons her Elemental Spirits, and soon the party has defeated the monstrosity. Almost all of them are bloodied during the fight, and nearly all of their dailies have been used.
    Tor Val helps the party ascend the central spire. Soon, they enter the Overseer's quarters; a small set of apartments that apparently was used by the city's leaders. Kratas finds an almost intact skeleton and uses the Last Sight ritual to see how it dies.

    He sees the Overseer sitting at a desk, writing something in a language Kratas isn't familiar with. Hearing a ruckus outside, the Overseer looks out the window and sees a sudden flash of light, which swiftly expands outward, sweeping over the city, killing everything in its path, but leaving the buildings intact. Kratas, unfortunately, was unable to determine what type of creatures inhabited the city prior to its demise.

    On one side of the room is a statue of a tall, thin, stately woman, her face covered by a hood. As Dryder looks it over, a Magic Mouth ritual is triggered, and a male voice harrangues the party in a harsh, gutteral language. Kratas uses a Comprehend Languages rituals and then triggers the Magic Mouth again.

    "Beware, mortal, the wrath of the Queen. I shall bind my enemies and feed them to the Blind Dark."

    Pa Mela, meanwhile, is investigating one of the exits from the room when she triggers an explosive glyph. Dryder then hears something in another room shatter, and then hears an angry, wild roar. Soon, a horrible creature bursts into the room.

    This creature is a heavily modified Grey Slaad, which I bumped up to a solo. It immediately attacks the party, lashing out with tentacles of pure chaos. It is at this time that the party's dice decide to do the good deed. Kratas crits not once, but twice in one round after spending an Action Point. Soon after, Tor Val crits. All in all, there were a total of 5 crits during this combat. A creature that had almost 500 hitpoints was completely obliterated in the space of 3 rounds.

    The group finds a chest that contains over 500 gold pieces; not the ceramic "gold" pieces found in the cities, but REAL gold, each imprinted with the symbol of ancient civilizations. They also discover 5 +2 javelins and a set of Scale Mail of Fire Resistance +3. In another chamber, they discover that the Slaad had emerged from an urn, a prison of some type that had been confined in the tower for thousands upon thousands of years. It was likely that the Slaad had been driven completely insane (well, more than it already was) by its imprisonment.

    This was a tough session plagued by unlucky dice rolls. Since there are now 6 players in the party, I've had to increase the difficulty a bit so that they can be properly challenged. The session ends with the party achieving 8th level.

    The day is now the 22nd day of Wind, in the Season of Sun Ascending, in the Year of Enemy's Vengeance, 190th King's Age.
    Next Session: The Square of Gurdek.
    Last edited by Raunalyn; Monday, 19th September, 2011 at 11:03 PM.

  9. #9
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    Interlude: Kratas in the Desert

    Kratas
    Reborn


    It was but an hour from dusk when Kratas left is companions to their Amketch employers. Quietly he made his way out of the compound, across the streams and into the sands of the encompassing desert. He had a purpose.

    Kratas was a noble by birth, born and raised in Tyr, though his father had not earned his title. He never knew his mother, as she died giving him life. His father told him little of her, and he could only get half the story from his wet-nurse-turned-nanny years later.

    He tracked across the sands for a few miles, coming to a small basalt formation rising from the sand like a tooth of a long dead monster. What was he doing? Images not his own flashed like lightning through his weary mind. A symbol,... ancient? Forgotten? He knew of its origin...the Far Realm. His resolve wavered as he stared at the menacing rock scar and pulled forth a shard of coal.

    Leatra, his nanny, and perhaps the only friend he had for his first fifteen years, spoke only briefly about his mother. "A mind-witch from the deep desert, and you too have her Gift." She never explained further, but it was evident that his mother and father were a strange match.

    He scratched the symbol onto the flat stone before him. He knew the words...for they had been whispered to him for days since the great battle with the Gith, or perhaps even the time he touched the Defiler relic. Reaching into himself, he summoned forth all of the psionic strength within him, creating countless turns in a mental maze, hoping it would protect him from what was to come...

    Kratas's father was Khadhar, dominant lord of the Maktrel Ludis, or gladiatorial school. Slaves were a way of life to the growing noble's son, and the cries of men living and dying around him a constant din. Khadhar was a hard man, and would not suffer weakness from his child. By the time he was fifteen, he had seen hundreds die in and out of the fighting ring.

    The lines of the Star blur and ignite, burning in inky black flame, bleeding peals of silent thunder. A connection is made as foreign and forgotten words burst forth from the Star, clouding his mind. Sweat drips from his forehead as he strains to keep the frayed ends of his sanity from leaking away like the forgotten rains of his desert world...

    His father gave no ground, and accepted no excuse while Kratas trained in the Mind arts. He was to be an Adept, a powerful Psion...and Khadhar would accept nothing but perfection from his son. These disciplines came easily enough, but it was the Arcane that truly excited him. Knowing words and formula to alter the fabric of his world; this was what he really wanted.

    He could feel them. The burning, faceless things that inhabit the black places between time and space. He could hear the foul piping of alien flutes, and listened in horror to the music of the spheres...

    Many a night, Kratas could be found in his room, poring over arcane primers and ritual formulae. It took many years for them to take hold, as they were somewhat alien to his mental training. His friend Dryder, a minstrel and vagabond, teased him without end in those early years for his bookishness.

    The gates of his mind and the doors of ancestral memory are battered down, self knowledge expands as the Star's three-lobed eye opens and dialates... There is speech, the language is thought, idea and desire. The Outer Forces make plain their aims and goals for the physical world. Kratas's will bends...but does not break. He bears the weight of the heavens, deafened by silence and foul, alien thoughts.

    He remembers the day of the uprising. He remembers the bloody end his father met at the tip of a slave's sword. Dryder was insistent that he not tarry, and assisted Kratas's escape from the slave’s vengeance. He will always be grateful to his low-born elven friend; though they fight as cats and dogs, their team is as eternal as the sands of Athas.

    E'saadri, his mother was Kalashtar. Knowledge of his true ancestry strikes him like a cold wind. His blood, too, is Kalashtar; one of the Estranged humans of the deep desert. Knowledge of self brings strength; he pushes back the massive onslaught of amoral insight, powered by the writhing chaos without...

    For months/years after the fall of the Ludis and the death of his father, Kratas wandered the city streets. Fortune had smiled on the night he had escaped when Dryder handed him the small fortune his father had kept. This money sustained him for a while, but did nothing to lift the yoke of loss from him. He had known nothing else, and now he had nothing. He spent the last of his coin for armor and weapons and set out to find Dryder...and perhaps a new life.

    It takes every ounce of his remaining will to end the connection to the Far Realm. The brand of the Outer Things burns cold on his back as the black flames die out. He feels charged with power, but knows there is a price for this bargain. No matter, he has become a weapon...Let his enemies tremble at his approach, for he does not come alone - "They" are with him.

  10. #10
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    Dark Sun: Session 16

    After finishing up in the overseer's quarters, the group descends the spire and continues exploring the underground city. Unknown to the rest of the group, Kratas has finished his transformation, awakening latent psionic powers and developing a few abilities granted to him by his otherworldly patrons.

    After about an hour, they hear what sounds like something tapping inside one of the buildings. They move further in, trying to determine the source. Soon, it becomes clear that the tapping is actually someone beating rythmically on a wall, which is further verified when they faintly hear someone singing. When they get close enough to make out the language, they are shocked to discover that the person is singing in common. However, the words are almost gibberish, words strung together in meaningless sentences.

    Eventually, they encounter a lone human male using two clubs as drumsticks. He continues to sing, not noticing the party until Pa Mela steps forward and grabs his attention. The man drops his clubs in startlement, then cowers in the corner, babbling incoherently as the party tries to calm him. Kratas tries to contact the man's mind, but finds nothing there...as if the man had no mind. But, with Pa Mela's persistant calm, the man soon calms down. He beckons the party to follow him.

    Crawling and stumbling over the rooftops and through the ancient habitations, the strange man babbles at the group as he guides them east through the ruins. Eventually, they come to a small cottage. The area around it is cultivated, farmed for what the group can only assume are nutricious plants. The man calls out as he approaches the cottage, and the group makes out a name in the incoherent gibberish; "Slate."
    Soon, a man emerges. From all appearances, he's human, except that his face is gray and stoney, cracked and craggy. His piercing blue eyes gauge the party as his gibbering friend points to the group. He then turns to them and says,

    "Thank you for your kindness to my friend Morlah. Perhaps you wouldn't mind joining us and telling your tale, and we will tell ours. As you can probably gather, we never have visitors here."

    He introduces himself as Slate, and explains that he is the leader of a small group of elemental priests that he has named the Square of Gurdek. Within the cottage he seats the party in a large common room and introduces the rest of the Square: Pargo; a human male in his early 30's: Mefse; a burly and jovial human male in his 20's: Ari Evan; an elderly and cheerful human woman in her 60's: Ranza: a short, wirey, dour human male whose face is covered with strange, black tatoos: Morlah: the cheerful, childlike man they met earlier: and Olton; obviously a former gladiator, but she is just as childlike and insane as Morlah.

    As Ari, Mefse and Pargo prepare dinner, Ranza exits out of one doorway, and Morlah, Slate, and Olton remain in the common room. Curious, the party asks late about the formor gladiator and bard. Slate explains that he showed them the glory of Gurdek, but their minds could not comprehend. They became broken and childish beings, and he feels it is his duty to continue sheltering them. The rest of his group had minds strong enough to see Gurdek in his full glory, then says that there is one among the party who he thinks would be strong enough to speak with Gurdek. He looks right at Katrie when he says this.

    As they all sit down to eat, the rest of the square makes conversation. Slate remains silent, watching each of the party in turn.

    At first, the party is a little nervous about eating (previous adventures have made them cautious (smile)), but as Tor Val smells the delicious aromas coming from the plates, he digs in. The fruits and vegetables are unusual, but he discovers that the meat is quite tasty. Upon asking, Ari laughs and says, "Someone was kind enough to kill a bunch of basilisks for us. That's basilisk tail." To which Mefse cheerfully replies, "Tastes like chicken!"

    As they eat, Ari, Pargo and Mefse relate their tales. Slate had found each of them on the surface. All of them were unsuccessful and aimless until Slate showed them the glory of Gurdek. He then brought each of them here, letting their group grow in power and fellowship.

    The group asks about the gith. Ari explains that they are safe here because the gith consider the ruins to be a sacred city.

    Around this time, Ranza returns and whispers something in Slate's ear. At this point, Slate asks the group what they are doing down here.
    The group explains about the attacks on the surface from the gith. Slate nods knowingly and explains;

    "“Look around you, at the glory of this city. Great earth spirits like Gurdek built this city, a haven of stone for the great ones. Here they were shielded from annoying winds, unruly waters, and fickle fire. But the spirits of other elements grew envious of the earth spirits and drove them out of the city. Outnumbered and beaten by their lessers, the earth spirits took the shape of living flesh so they could propagate their kind.

    Now, centuries after that ignominious defeat, they are ready to reclaim what was theirs. Not just the City of Death, but the surface world as well. With water already broken, wind and flame will prove too weak to resist earth’s vengeance, even if they unite their powers. At last order shall be restored, and the gith as servants of the earth shall reign supreme.”"

    He then bids the party goodnight. Ari shows them to a large room where they can rest. Kratas, Dryder, and Gundrek guard each entrance to the room, and they discuss what they've learned.

    None of them trusts the Square. In fact, each of them is worried that, some time in the night, Slate or his companions will try to kidnap Katrie. They set watches for the night and wait.

    Sure enough, Pargo and Ari arrive several hours later. Pargo says that Slate would like to speak with Katrie. She says that she would gladly go if she could bring her companions with her. Ari sadly shakes her head and says, "Alone."

    The group declines, and Pargo pulls out his battleaxe, saying, "She's coming with us one way or another. It's best to let her come quietly."
    At this point, Kratas and Gundrek decide to defend their companion.

    While Gundrek, Katrie and Kratas cover the north entrance to the room, Dryder and Tor Val remain near the south entrance, knowing that more of the Square would likely come through that way. As they wait, Mefse and Olton burst into the room. Pa Mela stands in the center of the room, firing arrows both north and south to her companions that need them. Gundrek marks Pargo and maneuvers himself to block of any retreat, and Katrie and Kratas flank Ari after realizing she's a mage. Pargo shakes off Gundrek's mark and deals a hefty blow, and Ari takes a bit of a beating from both Katrie and Kratas before she casts Dimension Door, teleporting into a better position so that she can cast a sleep spell. Kratas and Pa Mela are caught in the effect, but Kratas successfully resists. Pa Mela struggles to stay awake, but ultimately falls to the floor unconscious.

    Meanwhile, Dryder and Tor Val (who crits) quickly dispatch Olton and are in the process of attacking Mefse. Mefse somehow is able to burrow into the ground, rushing beneath Tor Val and Dryder. The attack knocks Tor Val prone, and then he discovers that another occupant has been hiding; Ranza has secretly snuck in the room and attacks Tor Val while he's down, hitting him hard.

    During the course of the fight, the group discovers that each of the Square of Gurdek has some type of earth-based power; some have the ability to cause spikes to spring up out of the ground, others to turn their skin to stone, or the ability to sink into the stone beneath them and spring up somewhere else. However, soon, the party is triumphant as the last of the Square, Pargo, falls.

    The group investigates the rest of the cottage, soon finding a stairwell going down into a basement level. There, they find Slate standing in front of a large crevice. He looks sad as he berates the party, admonishing them for abusing his hospitality, and then for killing his companions. Kratas immediately throws out his new power, Web of Shadows, to try to prevent Slate from moving. Tor Val, Gundrek, Dryder and Katrie rush forward to engage while Pa Mela remains behind, taking pot shots at their enemy. Slate, though, has other plans. With a shout out to the elemental spirit that he worships, the ground rumbles and two Earth Elementals erupt from the ground.

    This was a fun fight. These guys hit HARD, and Pa Mela was reduced to mostly damage mitigation. Kratas used several of his powers to good effect, mainly using Forward Thinking Cut to grant Dryder and Tor Val free charge attacks. Gundrek moves in to engage Slate, and Katrie tries to flank. Slate, with his main power having a reach of 2, gets an Opportunity attack on Katrie, though, and nails her for 30 damage. Slate uses his powers to separate the party several times, and the Earth elementals slide the group around with their earth stomps. But soon, the tide turns as first one elemental, then the other falls. Finally, Katrie pounces on Slate and brings him down. With his last breath, he curses the group and gives this dire warning:

    "You are too late. The ritual has begun. They come!"

    The party picks up their loot and heads to the crevice, where they find a rope ladder descending into darkness.

    The day is now the 23rd day of Wind, in the Season of Sun Ascending, in the Year of Enemy's Vengeance, 190th King's Age.

    Next Session: The Nightmare Gate

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