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WotBS EmeraldBeacon's Burning Sky (fun moments)

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
Thought I'd follow in @Tolamaker 's shoes and list some thoughts about my journey through GMing this campaign path. The party as a whole has largely stabilized, after some early shuffling and turnover. The Dramatis Personae:

Fen Ravenwing, a Taranesti Arcane Rogue. Once an extremely young princess in Phorros Irrendra, she managed to escape the genocide, with only a child's understanding of what happened. Her noble heritage now concealed, she seeks to help her people recover their homeland, and their pride. As the last of her blood line, she has a legitimate claim to the highest noble titles of the Taranesti people of Phorros Irrendra, and stands as a true rival to Shaaladel, should he ever discover her true lineage.
Varis, a Droalesti Twilight Cleric. An orphan himself, he witnessed some of the aftermath of the Shahalesti attack on Phorros Irrendra. His twin sister left his temple almost forty years ago, after she heard of atrocities that a young Half-Taranesti boy witnessed in the forest of Ycengled Phurrst... His sister is actually one of the two that took young Rhuarc in, and together, built a plan to undo the ambitions of both Ragesia and Shahalesti, by destroying the torch.
Malakai, a Dragonborn Hexblade Warlock. Once a Ragesian soldier, he experienced a freak, random magical awakening shortly before the Scourge began. In fear for his life, he fled to Gate Pass, and has been running ever since... both away from his former army, and towards his strange patron. Malakai has actually been contacted by a distant wisp of the Stormchaser Eagle's spirit, bound to the world and supporting it, even as Leska plans to destroy it. Desperate for a champion to stop her, Malakai was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Bast, a Dwarven Wild Magic Barbarian. A man running from his past, Alabaster Dashgoban is the nephew of one of Dassen's sitting lords. Already an impulsive individual, he gained inexplicable (and largely uncontrollable) magical powers when he unknowingly became host to a Trillith. The Trillith is "Zeal," and it represents itself as a wolf, an image it drew from Bast's memory, as a symbol of the house he essentially abandoned.
Tovolar, a Halfling Dragon Spirit Monk. Strong-willed and hot-headed, this warrior carries a severe Napoleon complex, but also a strong desire to help the weak. His pure focus attracted the attention of a notable draconic spirit, which has agreed to share its power... for now. As a champion of the Stormchaser travels, so do does its rival, and the Flamebringer dragon (or what remains of it) has empowered Tovolar to walk the same path, and perhaps to set in motion some degree of pennance for its previous actions.
Miguel Tall-Foot, a Gnome Drakewarden Ranger. Previously a wanderer of the wild, he joined a commune of nature-loving individuals, who began to teach him their own draconic lore. It wasn't long before a draconic spirit made contact, and they set off on a journey of discovery together... but just what is that spirit, anyway? A bizarre conglomeration of draconic powers, the spirit is a semi-corporeal amalgamation created by Pilus' experiments, including dragonscales taken from both the corpse of Syana, and the mighty Phaaughsmat.
 
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emeraldbeacon

Explorer
So far, Tovolar has been great fun to torment with "short" jokes. He's developed quite a passionate hatred of Haddin, after he unceremoniously dominated the halfling monk, and forced him to execute the Ragesian Inquisitor hunting him. Thus far, he's insinuated several times that he intends to kill Haddin... but I have a feeling that a moment is going to come when Haddin gives him a piece of his mind about how the two of them aren't so different after all.

Bast told a lie to the party about fighting a massive salamander in the gorge beneath the crumbling bridge in Innenotdar, to explain for his absence and burns down below... which only made the ACTUAL encounter with a salamander, later, even more hilarious. Sadly, said salamander rolled terribly during the attack, and was unable to drag anyone into the flames.

The party was able to piece together the connections between Indomitability and Anyariel pretty early on, though they're still trying to fill in gaps in the story. It should make the later puzzle pieces much easier to include.

I'm toying with the idea of having Nelle, the unicorn, offer each the ladies in the group (Torrent, Crystin, and Fen) one of his hairs as they leave the waterfall cave. I'm not sure if it would be anything more than a symbolic gesture, but would you say that using a unicorn hair as a bowstring would imbue the arrows with enough of its power, to be considered magical (for purposes of overcoming resistance)?

I'm also wondering how much patience Indomitability would have with the party, which has (thus far) agreed to free him by "silencing the forty" (and therefore have been granted his boon, for now). Would their detour upriver get his attention? If so, how strenuously should he demand their obedience, lest he revoke his boon?
 

Tolamaker

Explorer
Tovolar, a Halfling Dragon Spirit Monk.

Malakai, a Dragonborn Hexblade Warlock.

Miguel Tall-Foot, a Gnome Drakewarden Ranger.
This is a super dragon-heavy campaign. Sounds like a great opportunity to have certain trillith drawn to them in RP based on which ideal/attribute they are closer to.
I'm toying with the idea of having Nelle, the unicorn, offer each the ladies in the group (Torrent, Crystin, and Fen) one of his hairs as they leave the waterfall cave. I'm not sure if it would be anything more than a symbolic gesture, but would you say that using a unicorn hair as a bowstring would imbue the arrows with enough of its power, to be considered magical (for purposes of overcoming resistance)?
I always like magical weapons that don't need the +1. Plus archers are often starved for magic items. On the other hand, you could always treat it similar to an Immovable Rod. A simple magic thread that can't break. I'm sure they could find plenty of ways to use them.
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
This is a super dragon-heavy campaign. Sounds like a great opportunity to have certain trillith drawn to them in RP based on which ideal/attribute they are closer to.
My plan is to have the Drakewarden's spirit actually be one of Pilus' discarded creations, a semi-etherial amalgamation of numerous draconic bloodlines. The Dragon Spirit monk, on the other hand, has a tenuous tie to the spirit of either Khor-el-Jiese or Time... I'm not entirely sure which way I'm going. Bast, as well, actually has a Trillith dwelling within him (a red wolf named Zeal), that's creating the wild magic surges whenever he rages. Now that the players have heard the names Trilla and Trillith, Bast is probably going to have a dream about the others Trillith that he's already met (a black horse representing Justice, a barn owl representing Foresight, and of course, the flaming stag that is Indomitability).

The Dragonborn Hexblade, however, actually has a connection to what remains of the spirit of Jhial-el-Avilona; I'm reasonably sure the player is dead-focused on his character having ties to ancient and powerful dragons, and I thought it would be a nice subversion.
 

Bill T.

Explorer
I figure that the unicorn hair should let you summon Nelle like the appropriate Summon Nature's Ally spell. Seda, the seela druid in my group's party, summoned a unicorn the old-fashioned way, and I couldn't resist having it be Nelle.
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
I figure that the unicorn hair should let you summon Nelle like the appropriate Summon Nature's Ally spell. Seda, the seela druid in my group's party, summoned a unicorn the old-fashioned way, and I couldn't resist having it be Nelle.
I always like magical weapons that don't need the +1. Plus archers are often starved for magic items. On the other hand, you could always treat it similar to an Immovable Rod. A simple magic thread that can't break. I'm sure they could find plenty of ways to use them.
The character opened up Nelle's appearance by choking up, and saying that Unicorns were basically sacred to her people... so that's why she's getting the hair (I decided to give one to the other "maidens" of the party, too - Crystin and Torrent - so it wouldn't seem ENTIRELY like I was favoring one player).

My plan is to give them a relatively high arcana check if they ask what it does, then just say, "You really don't know exactly what a unicorn hair can do. Maybe you can do some research at the Lyceum, or just... try things with it?"
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
Tonight, the party left Nelle the unicorn and head downstream, encountering the devil Kazyk. They were singularly unimpressed by his offers of alliance, and rejected his offer. Since they hadn't fought yet, he picked a fight... and rolled terribly for initiative, without any element of surprise. One imp was dead before it could even act, thanks to a critical Eldritch Blast. Kazyk tried to hit-and-run, but as the Drakewarden kept sending his fire-immune buddy into the underbrush, he quickly had to teleport away. Later, heading back to their tower base of operations, they met Tiljann, who was promptly almost killed, then started fangirling all over the cleric who revived her in the middle of the fight.

Amusingly, Torrent has started to develop a reputation as someone who can't hit the broadside of a barn... either her crossbow bolts go wildly off-target, or she hits, and rolls a 1, for 0 damage.

Lastly, is this a minor error in the Roll20 module, or is Tiljann secretly from Krypton? :ROFLMAO:

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emeraldbeacon

Explorer
In tonight's session, the party concluded their fight against the Seela rebels holding Tiljann hostage. Managing to knock them all down without any escapees, they questioned both Tiljann and the rebels about the reason for the attack... after some tense discussions, the rebels admitted they just wanted the suffering of their people to end, and it was people like Tiljann prolonging it, while Tiljann was still hopeful for finding an actual solution to the fire, rather than just surviving it... and that finding "something beautiful" meant that her hope was not in vain.

The party began to put more information together, connecting "the forty" that they were to "silence," to the singing seela to the south. In her part, after explaining some about the Song of Forms, those party members who understand Sylvan caught some of the lyrics, and clocked the line about the living blade.

There were some quiet and sad discussions during the night, including Torrent bemoaning her own deficiencies, and debating whether or not it might be worth making a deal with a devil after all. Crystin was asked about her visions, and was able to convey that she did have some connection to Nelle's dreams, of the "children of Trilla." Later on, Haddin finally asked about the case of Ragesian Intel that the rest of the party had kept hidden from him (until the devil Kazyk announced its existence). He offered to open it (he knows Knock), so everyone could actually look inside, but was declined. He also infuriated one of the party members (whom he previously Dominated), by pointing out - with at least a bit of legitimacy - that they were the same, willing to do whatever dirty deeds needed doing, to survive.
 

I recall when we published this adventure that I was a bit anxious about there being three NPCs who go along with the party, but I've seen enough examples of groups having great conversations like this to be glad they were there. I cannot take credit. Jacob Driscoll did a great job writing it.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
I recall when we published this adventure that I was a bit anxious about there being three NPCs who go along with the party, but I've seen enough examples of groups having great conversations like this to be glad they were there. I cannot take credit. Jacob Driscoll did a great job writing it.
I remember reading a few accounts of the adventure being too linear and having too many NPCs, so I made sure to let the PCs choose which way to go at the fork in the road and generally only have Torrent help in the fights. The players consistently rated the fire forest as one of their favorite experiences throughout our campaign (of which EmeraldBeacon was a player).
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
I recall when we published this adventure that I was a bit anxious about there being three NPCs who go along with the party, but I've seen enough examples of groups having great conversations like this to be glad they were there. I cannot take credit. Jacob Driscoll did a great job writing it.
My group is a fairly large six players, and they're currently toting along three NPCs. Usually, only Torrent assists, while Crystin and Haddin hang back, only participating in RP moments (save in fights that have notable environmental hazards, like the Fire Walls when Indomitability was testing the party).

By the time that Chapter 2 is done, they might even be bringing a FOURTH NPC (Tiljann) along with them, which should make things quite interesting in the southern Dasseni swamplands...
 

Fuzzybear

Villager
My group is a fairly large six players, and they're currently toting along three NPCs. Usually, only Torrent assists, while Crystin and Haddin hang back, only participating in RP moments (save in fights that have notable environmental hazards, like the Fire Walls when Indomitability was testing the party).

By the time that Chapter 2 is done, they might even be bringing a FOURTH NPC (Tiljann) along with them, which should make things quite interesting in the southern Dasseni swamplands...
Don't forget about Diashan. Bump that up to 5 NPCs to be safe.

For what it's worth, I sidelined the NPCs quite a bit in our game as I was worried about them overshadowing the players. They interacted with them some, but also ignored them some which worked out pretty well. We are now in Seaquen, so the NPCs are dispersing, though the prep time for me has increased greatly!
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
Me: asking players to confirm backstory elements, and if they have any roleplay goals for the campaign
Drow Cleric player: wanting to find/confront twin sister who left his church years ago
Me: already planning for her to be one of the Droalesti who aided Rhuarc in the assassination of Coaltongue...
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emeraldbeacon

Explorer
So, after our party learned a bit about the Song of Forms, they got into a fairly lively (and sometimes heated) debate about what to do regarding Indomitability, and the Seela to the south, some saying that the devil Kazyk actually had some good points... Eventually reaching the Seela village, the group split off, with half of them following the elder Papuvin to his cave, to learn what he remembered about Anyariel's last battle, while the other half (conveniently, with BOTH of the party Trillith!) decided to see what the mysterious Vuhl had to say.

After each team received one half of a story, two team members from Deception's side decided that they needed to talk to Indomitability, and out of the blue, remembered the dream seeds that provided "visions of the flamebringer." And that's how we ended the episode, as two PCs fell unconscious, and three remained completely unaware, as dream elementals began to apparate WITHIN the Seela Village...!

Amusingly, when the two players were sharing experiences in the dream realm, I made sure to note that each of them saw themselves, and an odd beast in the dream realm, alongside the fiery form of Indomitability, and the silvery masses of Dream Elementals... a wolf, for the trillith-inhabited Wild Magic Barbarian, and a small dragon, for the Way of the Dragon Monk. They were perplexed at first, but soon realized that they were each seeing something in the other...
 
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emeraldbeacon

Explorer
Remind me, is there anyone in the party who'd be in the market for a big wooden sword?
I think either the Barbarian or Hexblade would find the Living Blade useful (likely transmuting it into a greataxe or polearm, respectively), while the Rogue or Ranger could conceivably turn it into a bow of some kind.
 

emeraldbeacon

Explorer
In our latest challenge, the party was able to fend off a pair of Dream Elementals, even while one among their numbers had the boon of Indomitability REVOKED for confronting him in the dream realm, and refusing to follow his demands blindly. Saved rather quickly by one of the group's significant surplus of Spare the Heat potions, they eventually gathered to discuss a course of action... a conversation that Vuhl very easily eavesdropped upon, with a Stealth role of 30, before he offered the suggestion of approaching Guenvere, should they wish to gain Timbre's attention.

The group got to her grotto without much difficulty, then promptly began to dispute how to get the attention of Guenvere... and soon realized she was watching them, as she completely botched her stealth check with advantage, and fully half the party caught with their passive perception. An awkward conversation ensued, during which they managed to convince her that they wanted to help the wood (and subsequently the lake) to heal, at which point she allowed them into her private cave. Inside, they saw another shrine to Anyariel... not the grand, public display of honor that Timbre had erected, but a private one filled with Guenvere's own artistic representations of the elven hero. She provided the group with the lock of hair in shame, then asked them to leave her be.

Heading straight to Timbre's Glade, they bypassed her boar guardians, and held audience with the burning dryad. The story of the Living Blade was told, and Tiljann's shocked realization at the story, and how it tied to the line from the Song of Forms, helped the party finally put the pieces together. Now, they prepare to head back to the Seela Village, planning to spend the night recuperating, before finally putting an end to Indomitability's decades-long curse...

...little knowing that a certain Bearded Devil is watching and waiting for a chance to strike, now that they're at their weakest.
 

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