1. When the party returns to the Seela Village at night, how do you think them staying the night would be recieved? Tiljann, at least, would vouch for them, and Papuvin might allow a few of them to stay in his cave on Tiljann's word, but there isn't sufficient room for all of them in there, and most other Seela are still wary about these newcomers. Will they have to camp outside the village, or huddled around Papuvin's cave entrance, perhaps?
2. Do you think that it would be better for Kazyk to attack the party on their way back to the Seela village from Timbre's Glade, or while they sleep, at the village? The first one has a much higher chance of being a threat, since they'd be alone, and would have already expended some spell resources... but at the village, they might let their guard down... and the Seela are no real threat to Kazyk (though he would be significantly outnumbered there).
3. If the party does ask to bunk with Vuhl, would he do much beyond try to convince them of the futility of their plan? Would he steal anything, sabotage their supplies, or even harm them, or would he rely on words rather than actions, to impede their progress? (I would imagine that stealing some of their belongings, then planting them on Tiljann, could help drive a wedge into that relationship)
I don't recall the actual map, but I envision there being space in a cave. The seelae cramping together for a night to give the outsiders privacy is a pretty minor inconvenience compared to the imprisonment and fiery peril they've faced for decades.
For Kazyk, what sort of interaction do you want the PCs to have with the seelae. Maybe if they get into trouble and a few fey jump in and try to tackle the fiend, it will endear the party to them and make saving them a bit more personally gratifying. These days, I'm partial to combat with more character oomph, and a fight in the middle of the woods just feels like there's less 'story' to it.
With Vuhl, he has an agenda, but he's got to be careful about overplaying his hand. If he's suspected of direct chicanery to turn the PCs against Tiljann, the party won't trust his lies when he's hoping to trick them into releasing Indomitability.
The party has pretty openly stated that they wanted to free the Seela from their curse by STOPPING Indomitability, not FREEING him, so Vuhl has changed his tactics to set the Seela against the party (or at least distrust them). The rebels that tried to stop Tiljann are already ill-inclined towards them, and it wouldn't take much to turn the rest of the dissenters. For the faithful singers, he's been hinting that these outsiders seem poised to upset the status quo of the forest and could disrupt the old song... all technically true, but significantly out of context. Either way, they'll get a cool reception when they return to town, save for Papuvin (who is endlessly kind and understanding) and a handful of the more faithful Seela.
As for Kazyk, as much as I'd like to have him attack in the village, he doesn't seem the kind to risk a situation with so many variables in play. I think my plan is to strike on the path from Timbre's glade back towards the lake, where the party would be surrounded by fire, with less opportunity to cut and run. This time, he's set a PROPER trap, rather than the more "honorable" straight fight he tried before...
In the latest session, the party, now armed with all the information they THINK they need to get out of the forest, go back and forth over how they intend to stop the fire spirit of Innenotdar. After spending the night in a cramped cave, the wild mage barbarian gets a bizarre, semi-shared dream with Crystin, along with some cryptic statements about the children of Trilla. A few insight rolls later leads them to realize that Nelle had spoken about Trillith, as well.
I was silently screaming inside as almost the entire party was ready to consume dream seeds AT THE SAME TIME (thisisfine.gif), but they decided to forgo doing so for now. After thinking better about their initial plan, they returned the lock of Anyariel's hair to Guenvere, and asked her to help them in the lake, where she offered to persuade the Merrow to leave the heroes be, so long as they don't disturb the fishfolk.
Eventually, two champions dove into the water to claim the sword, but were only able to dislodge it slightly... at which point, the real fight began. Indomitability quickly began swimming towards land, while the other two desperately clung to the sword. Finally, the barbarian was able to pull it free, attuning to it and learning its secrets (this was the one player I really wanted to get the sword, TBH)... and promptly afterwards, as the session was ending, I dropped a double bombshell on the players... first, Indomitability used a legendary action, making the players all suddenly go "wait he can do WHAT?" Then, conveniently acting at the very end of the combat order, Kazyk sprung into action, and began furiously laying into Torrent, thankfully only connecting once.
Despite not having to deal with the Merrow (a big deal!), the heroes now have a two-front war on their hands, and a VERY angry Indomitability who's ready to "SEEL-A" the fates of those who kept him imprisoned for so many years...
The fight took up most of the episode, as everyone seemed very keen on stopping Kazyk before anything else. With all the attention upon him, the devil wasn't able to fend off enough of the party's attacks, and was ultimately dispelled by a stray blast of radiant energy from the barbarian (whose wild magic never fails to amuse me).
Meanwhile, Indomitability took advantage of the opportunity to carve through the Seela, whose instantly panicked, but managed to maintain the song so far. The halfling monk, furious at being dismissed by the fiery being so often, continually charged after him... and Indomitability kept using his legendary actions to trip him then walk away, promising to return to finish him off once he was done with the Seela. Panicking, the heroes threw everything at Indomitability, though had a hard time whittling down his ever-recovering hit points... and out of spite, he finally revoked everyone's boon. Several potions of Stand the Heat were rapidly quaffed, as the fight continued.
In one turn, though, the rogue landed a nasty critical sneak attack while the warlock slapped him with Chill Touch. Injured and winded, the trillith-inhabited (unknowingly) barbarian challenged Indomitability, calling out his hypocritical attitude of seeking revenge against people whose only crime was trying to stay alive. Now knowing that the sword he held could sustain the Seela, the barbarian asked Indomitability if he would stop his rampage, should the singing stop voluntarily. He accepted the terms, and the party rapidly swept through the city, persuading the singers to stop the song.
In a tense moment of silence, they complied... then started laughing and crying as they realized they would indeed, survive, even as the forest burned. Indomitability finally addressed the crew, still defiant, but with a newfound appreciation for their tenacity. He granted his boons to those with the most unshakable spirits of the clan, then bid his farewell, and faded away as he galloped into the skies. Its fuel finally able to be consumed, much of the surrounding woodlands began to splinter and shatter, forty years' worth of burning finally taking its toll. But in a poetic stroke, the weather shifted, as a light rain began to fall upon the wood for the first time in decades. Everyone enjoyed a brief celebration, cut short when Vuhl seemed to speak directly into their minds, congratulating them on freeing his brethren, and complimenting their unorthodox means. The song of forms ended, he converted into his true form, a writhing mass of spectral black serpents, and promised to check in on them. Crystin shared that she finally understood: he was truly named Deception, both he and Indomitability were Children of Trilla, and they would indeed meet again.
Deciding to once more camp at the tower near the elf village, the party was interrupted by Tiljann before they left, as she begged them to take her with them. All seemed amenable to the addition, save the halfling monk, who complained about YET ANOTHER tag-along, to many laughs.
One thing I've tried to do in this campaign is give the Trillith's true forms a more conceptual basis. Indomitability remained a stag, of course, and I translated Deception's black tentacles to a mass of snakes. Kathor's "Justice" is a black stallion, apropos for his origins, while Crystin's "Foresight" is a barn owl. Our barbarian is indwelt by "Zeal," represented by a wolf.
I'm trying to think of other animal-like representations for the other notable trillith that the party will meet. Balance might become a crane, while Agony is a grizzly bear (thanks to his captivity in the Scourge Prison). Other trillith that I'm not so sure about are Madness, Vigilance, Metamorphosis (the main ones that come to mind, but I'm sure there are more I'm missing). Freedom might not show an animal form at all.
No game this week as our gaming group suffered a pretty heavy loss. Only about an hour before game time, I learned that one of my players passed away. Everyone was pretty shook about it, so we called things off this week.
Now, I'm trying to decide whether to simply have his character fade into the background, or to do something symbolic with him, possibly even leaving the door open to bring him back as a surprise NPC down the line. I'm not sure if that's both tacky, and insensitive to his memory, though.
Oh no. I'm sorry. Please, yeah, do what you need to do to take care of yourself and your friends.
Sometimes things like this benefit from a bit of distance and time. A gamer friend of mine passed over a decade ago from colon cancer, and eventually I felt comfortable having a bit of an homage to him in my games as a famous hero.
Sorry to hear that. Condolences for your loss.
We had a player that had to quit our WotBS campaign due to medical issues. It just so happened that we'd just finished the Indomitablility battle.
So, his character guards and works towards restoring the forest, wielding the Living Blade. Just a thought.
Finally picking up where we left off, there were a few retcons to the end of Chapter 2 we needed to take care of, having lost a player. Indomitability retroactively shifted his boon from that player to another one... this time the archer who, despite losing Stand the Heat, decided to keep attacking rather than quaff a potion (and subsequently landed a devastating critical hit on Indomitability). Then, before Indomitability departed, he asked the halfling monk to join him in his quest to find his brethren (and exactly what's going on with them, across the land). He did so because, in his own words, the Trillith had "never met a more impetuous, insolent, persistent thorn in his side... and perhaps it would be a benefit, for someone to truly keep him honest. The monk relenquished Bhurisrava's Mace to the cleric (hey, extra healing once a day), and the party continued south.
Exiting the mountains, the going was rough, and they decided to seek shelter for the evening at an abandoned watch tower a short distance off the road. When their progress was stifled by a troublesome lock, Haddin proved quite helpful in casting knock, which eventually led the party to request that he help open the case of Ragesian Intel. After doing so, though, they realized that nobody in the group, not even the NPCs, could read the text!
The tower helped them locate a safer route down the mountain, leading them to Cornerwood, the destitute, northeastern-most city in Dassen. Together, they traveled the city, which was welcoming despite the persistant sadness pervading the land. An older woman sold the mages some magical reagants, while other party members secured a cart and some horses to make the journey easier. Along with buying provisions for a long trip, they consulted maps, and decided to travel west through the woods, rather than make a beeline for the coast. They settled in for a relatively comfortable evening in the Palatial, preparing for a long trip ahead...
The latest episode saw our adventuring party traveling deeper into Dassen through a light but steady rain. They elected to travel through the Thornwood, as their dwarven associate noted that staying within Lady Timor's land as long as possible would generally be less stressful. That theory was immediately tested, when an owl familiar noticed a group of green-clad people on the side of the road. Two of the party decided to scout ahead, one of them botching a stealth roll and being noticed fairly quickly. There was some tense discussion, but soon, an understanding was reached... these mages were duty-sworn to guide those traveling southwards, safely through the Thornwood. Pleasant conversation spanned the handful of days of travel, and they left on good terms... though the mages were indeed disturbed to learn that the path through Innenotdar was no longer impassable.
Continuing into Lord Rego's lands, the boisterous knight Quikcy Felthuf eagerly requested the party's presence at his camp, for food and conversation, insinuating that the alternative would not be nearly as pleasant. There, he heard their travel story, scoffing at mention of their destination. After sharing the tale of Lsi Pu, he let slip that Rego's people were suffering from the needs of the refugees, and perhaps a bit of higher level mismanagement... "but don't let ANYONE hear you say that."
In Lady Namin's lands, the party was gently but relentlessly driven south, as a pair of knights didn't even allow them to stop and rest the horses. Eventually, as night fell, they begged for the chance to spend the night, at which time the knights relented. In passing, they heard that Lady Namin had designs on marrying Steppengard, despite the King's loving wife and eighteen children.
Awkwardly, the party moved laterally into Lord Iz' lands, now managing the steady rainfall in uneven, poorly maintained rocky roads. As expected, they met a regional guard asking what their purpose of travel was; unexpectedly, among that guard was the aging Lord Iz himself, busying himself with the same work as his loyal men. Intrigued by the heroes' stories, he invited them (along with a handful of other refugees that had piqued his interest. Later that evening, the party was entertained at his keep, an once-impressive structure that had seen better days. The elven rogue shed her armor for the night, replacing it with fine clothes she had stashed away, making quite the impression on the crowd, and drawing Iz' eye. The party rested easy that night, feeling that Iz was a good man doing his best, not only by his people, but by everyone who sets foot in his lands... though the dwarf, secretly a nephew of Dashgoban himself, was somewhat unsettled when Lord Iz mentioned, in passing, just how familiar he looked...
The latest mission was a relatively calm one. The team traveled south into Lord Megadon's lands, and while surprised at the relative opulance of the region, were dismayed at the cost to use the last stretch of the Prince's Way. The dwarven team member flexed a bit, revealing his status as a relative of Lord Dashgoban to request a tax discount, at the expense of giving away his true identity. They soon learned of Dashgoban's ban on sea travel, meaning the road through the swamp was their only way forward.
In Lady Dene's lands, everyone bemoaned the cost of living, despite being impressed at the relative wealth of the region. Most of Dassen's wealth did indeed seem concentrated in the south. As they reached Vidor, they reluctantly passed numerous refugees who simply couldn't afford to travel further. Upon learning of the excessive costs of travel materials, and the relatively low initial offers to trade in their horses and cart, they set out to begin bargaining, and eventually came to a fair - if still expensive - exchange.
Deciding to spend the afternoon in Vidor, then set out at first light, they gathered a bit of information in town. Aside from rumors they think may lead to Rantle's sister, they also got an unsettling warning against trusting any strange lights in the swamp...
Finally ready to head into the Sour Lake Swamp, the party goes to collect their boats, only to discover that they're surprisingly cumbersome. Leto Moore, ever the enterprising businessman, offered to loan out a half dozen of his men to porter the ships down to the end of the dry road, some ten miles away... but already disgusted at his business practices, the decided to ask the refugees to do the job for less. Finding a small group of able-bodied men that badly needed any money they could get, they worked out a mutually beneficial deal, and travelled to the cottage at the end of the safe road. Spending the night there, they learned that the Ostalin businessman had fled thanks to his wife and son, both of which had innate magical abilities.
In the morning, all parties said their farewells, and the journey into the swamp began in earnest. Thanks to some amazing survival checks, they had an uneventful day, and found refuge at a small rocky outcropping of the murky waters. When the eerie song and strange light began to appear, they were already on alert, having already heard that the light was a sign of danger. Everyone was awake when the trap was sprung.
The Witches H'andrea were tenacious, but caught flat-footed by a prepared party. Their initial plan disrupted, they began to throw spell after spell to interrupt the party's attacks (Slow! Stinking cloud! Fear!), but were consistently thwarted by great saving throws or clutch dispels. It wasn't long before the wizard fell in battle, while the cleric frantically tried to stay alive. A timely Command spell, ordering the cleric to approach, happened right after the druid jumped into her boat to try and flee. Brought right to the shore, the Cleric was dispatched, prompting the Druid to recoil in fear, pleading for her life. As the party bound her, we wrapped for the night...
As the crew searches the bodies of the fallen witches, and question H'andrea the druid, they are more than a little disturbed at the sealed vial of bloody tears she carries... even more so, at the apparently cursed effect it had on them, whenever it was held! After some deliberation, they decide to take the terrified witch up on her offer, and travel to their island to trade her own life for their hostage, despite the late hour. When the shores of the island rose up as skeletons, though, H'andrea made a mad dash for the huts. As the team reconsidered their decision to spare the druid's life, they made fairly short of the collected boneyard, even without a Clerical "Turn Undead" being used.
They shortly discovered the bound-and-gagged Katrina, but after the pyromancer gave them some attitude, they elected to keep her bound while they checked the other huts. Fen carefully walked into the bed chambers, then rushed to the man chained to the wall to see if she could help him. After recognizing his status as both deceased, and partially consumed, she left the hut to evacuate the contents of her stomach. While she opened the third hut, finding a bubbling cauldron full of fatty liquid, she couldn't explore more. Upon finding more of the Tidereaver's Tears inside, they debated destroying the unsettling objects (as they have no reliable way to identify them yet), before settling on asking the Lyceum for help in understanding their purpose. Eventually freeing Katrina, she's a bit catty, but ultimately thankful for her rescue. She's at first elated, then crestfallen, as she learns that her brother isn't coming.
Resetting their long rest, the ever-growing group of heroes sets out to complete their journey, shortly after Katrina decides to reduce the witches' huts to nothing more than charcoal. Caught in the fringe of an errant fireball, the dwarf barbarian feels a strange tug from the Living Blade... and discovers its fiery powers. They soon left, rowing through the rain and swamp muck, eventually beginning to run out of liquid to row their boats through. Located and stopped by a Shahalesti guard unit, the Dwarf and Drow do most of the talking, while the Taranesti tries to bite her tongue over her bitter feelings towards the nation, and the Dragonborn recoils at mention of keeping agents of the Ragesian military out of Seaquen. Overall, the party is freed to go about their way, without much fanfare.
A short distance later, they resign themselves to abandoning their all-too-expensive ships, when they meet a salesman very eager to purchase them - at a sharp discount. Fully admitting to his entrepreneurial plan, the party strikes a bargain... since the boats weren't going to be selling ANYWAY, they'd pay the man to store a set for them, that they could use should they need to return to the swamp. A deal was struck, and the salesman even allowed them to hitch a ride on his crew's cart, as they descend into the heart of Seaquen...
Wandering into Seaquen in the late afternoon, the party tries to find places to rest, but quickly finds all of the inns full (but ready to kick others out into the rainy night, for a hefty fee). Unwilling to do so, the party is quickly met by what appears to be the town drunk, Ronald "Ronnie" Philbrick (new PC, yay!), a half-elf bard who's found a quite comfortable life of exceedingly low standards. Ushering the group to his "home," an mostly-covered alley situated between two townhouses, the group resignedly spends an awkward night in the relative comfort under the dome of a Tiny Hut.
The next day, they go to meet with Lee Sidoneth, briefly encountering the slightly terrifying Paradim Dogwood, before filling in the Hydromancer with the good news of their arrival. He eagerly agrees to set up a meeting with the Lyceum leadership, but admits that it may take a few days to set up, and encourages the party to see what they can do to aid the city in the meantime. Shuffling the heroes out of his home since he "has a lot of work to take care of," A few of them catch a brief, unsettling glimpse of Lula, his pet Giant Squid.
Having cleaned and repaired the scavenged gear from the Witches' Huts in the swamp, Ronnie leads the party to the town market, and promptly puts on a clinic on how to barter and bargain, wheel and deal, selling everything with a smile for nearly full value (500gp). In the process, though, another shopper comes up to the group and asks if they've been in town long, explaining that a woman named "Jess" had been inquiring after them. After giving up the address of the building he was supposed to contact after seeing them, the party was left alone, worried about who wants to find them...