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WotBS Fuzzybear's Burning Sky



The Winds and the Orb​

So close to caught up... one more adventure. This has been tough.

After the shock of near death in teleporting to Ostalin and meeting with the Khagan (multiple Death Wards were triggered), the party heads north with Three Weeping Ravens towards the Monastery. I wanted to make sure to have TWR talk about soul gems and events surrounding the temple coming up in adventure 7. I hope this preps the adventure over there a bit more so that it feels less random.

I also talked with Winry beforehand to figure out how much she wanted her family involved in things. While I wasn't planning on having them captured or killed or anything similar to that, I wanted to know how much to prepare for her wanting to hunt them down, spend time with them, learn more about them, etc. Fortunately, and I kind of had the feeling already of this, she didn't really want to explore that significantly as she wanted her story to be about Winry, not Winry's past. I did have her father and brother caught in Balance's aura, so technically in some minor danger if the party completely abandoned Eresh, I didn't tie them more explicitly to the story than that. I think this was something of a disappointment to the other players who drink up anything Winry related, but at the same time I can respect players who communicate their wishes for their characters with me.

As it was, the majority of this adventure follows along with the guide. There were some small changes, but I didn't feel quite as much of a need to completely overhaul it as @RangerWickett talked about in their separate thread roughly as I was started this. The biggest change that I got to make was incorporating Rev's ex-patron Aemon Ming further into the plot. Having departed Seaquen prior to the devastation of the hurricane, Ming was on a mission. His experiments into death and resurrection had hit a proverbial wall. Then he got word through his Ragesian contacts of another master of the craft and decided to take a chance on it. Ming takes up Rivenstone, Rev's clone brother, altering him with biomancy to grow large wings capable of carrying him in flight, and heads out to the Monastery to learn and grow his work. He arrives shortly before Balance's explosion, but is carefully intercepted by Caela anyway to avoid the town.

Unbeknownst to Ming, he was followed through Ostalin by another of Rev's clone brothers, Edric (now called Ric, the short R name joke continues). His appearance in Eresh is quite simply just a way to get Rev's paranoia up and sow the seeds for later. My plan is for Ming to be a part of the ending adventure with Pilus, helping to wrap up his whole arc. I still have more up my sleeve in regards to the future of them, but I won't be too open with those thoughts just yet as they are a long ways off.

Events in Eresh proceed, the party meets Balance, they talk to Caela at the gates, are annoyed by her, find out about the army, and then Balance snaps. However they didn't decide to aggressively fight the Ragesians, instead focusing on saving the villagers and extracting them out to the Monastery for help. This changed plans a little bit, but in the end I just combined the major encounter with Signus with the one en route to Castle Korstull in the next adventure. This ended up working perfectly as I will describe later.

Eventually the party heads towards the forbidden valley and find the laboratory. I got to hit them with the sucker punch of their previous adventuring party, the Band of the Badger, were turned into misshapen monstrosities. The wind-minotaur was a lot of fun, though they decided to fight it in the rafters instead of on the ground level. That made things a bit different, but giving the minotaur free reign in the air made for a very memorable encounter even though they didn't shatter any of the vats. We experimented with Pathfinders' version of critical hits when rolling 10 more than AC. In the end though, with bounded stats of 5e, it was just too potent. It made the easy encounters even easier for the players and the tough ones way harder. I wouldn't recommend it personally without the bigger accuracy ranges that Pathfinder uses.

Finally the group fought Caela and the combat was excellent. She used her mobility to frankly piss off and confuse the party massively. Winry was able to keep up pretty well, but it sowed so much confusion and separation for the party who was used to fighting defensively that it worked. Caela also got a great moment of alpha-striking the cleric Bryn, who flew up in the air thinking she was safe then to heal and buff, but Caela used Step of the Wind to jump double height, combo her and knock her unconscious, falling to near death, before blitzing out of sight into the vats. Overall, it worked like a charm to be difficult and ominous with the giant shark in the sky eyeing them through the skylight.

Long resting before returning to the Monastery, the party gave the Ragesians time to pressure the Monastery. To link up with the fact that they didn't fight them off initially, I had Longinus give in to the Ragesians to save the villagers and give up an orb of storms. The army retreated by the time the party made it back. They were confused until they learned that their mission had been undermined! This allowed me to combine the Signus fight with the road battle at the start of the next adventure in a chase through the mountain passes instead! While it was a random decision, it moved a seemingly random encounter that felt mostly for XP with story to create a very meaningful event instead. Under time pressure, the group hunts down the remnants of the army in the passes before they can make it back to the full forces and retrieve the orb, barely keeping Bryn alive in the melee.

From here the next steps were clear. After confirming with Simeon, they avoid the army and travel quickly to stay ahead towards Castle Korstull, orb of storms in hand, ready to step into the tempest to find the Torch of the Burning Sky and change the fate of the war.

Next time, we will be moving to more pure episode write ups! Technically we are 3 sessions into the Castle, but I will write them up as one episode instead and then move to reporting every couple of weeks instead of these huge block updates! Hurray! I hope that it was enjoyable for everyone to read and not too much skimming. Thanks for the encouragement and the prompting!

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Into the Fires​

A week long trip across Sindaire later, the group finds themselves on the outskirts of a massive firestorm raining bloodlike drops of flame. Activating the orb they recovered, they head in. They are surprised to find a small caravan already arrived at the castle laden with a troupe of halflings. Suddenly, a black lightning bolt crashes down as they arrive at the massive bear skull of a front door and the dead animate before their eyes; flames lighting their eye sockets. The skeletons do not prove to be much of an issue once Bryn steps forward and turns them. I even managed to box myself into having a second group harassing Clan Millorn once the party started asking if they were just hanging around or what while this was all going on.

Some negotiations ensue, but I had previously seeded this adventuring group with my party back during the first time in Seaquen as one of the groups hanging around the Royale. This helped them be recognized, but I was careful to note that they are not an official group from Seaquen and the resistance, merely out for their own treasure hunting. A compromise was struck on splitting the potential loot, though the discussions about the Torch and its future were immediately in play as the group did not want to keep anything to themselves. In the end, Clan Millorn did not want anything to do with the Torch anyway and were planning on trying to destroy it should it be found, so they were able to negotiate giving that to the party as long as they were able to secure more of the standard gold. Largely this is just for fun as I am planning on the group doing nearly all of the work within the castle and gaining effectively all of the treasure listed in the adventure.

The next few sessions go quickly, the group deciding to head left per the halflings suggestion. The battles at the front gate and the barracks go smoothly, and the extra treasure in the armory is found by the group, though not without triggering the trap and taking some bonus damage. It did annoy me that the prison was mapped while the armory is not on the official map which made things a bit more difficult for the group using active exploration. Either way, a placed a +1 shield here for the party instead of what was originally there (a rapier I believe?) which Bryn happily took for herself being the only shield user.

Next they headed up to the chapel above. Here they got into a lot of trouble. They first started sneaking around, but were loud enough that the devils heard them coming. The imp purposefully got seen to try to draw them back from the side passages and into the main one, but the group quickly jumped towards them and took down the imp before it could get fully away. It did serve its purpose though as they then headed down the now open main corridor. Things got even better when Jack and Winry explored it separate from the rest of the group and I was able to separate them with the chained devil! This made the encounter suddenly very dangerous. I even got to have the other devils ambush the others by teleporting into the hallway through the peek holes in the side chambers. Eventually they battered down the door with some help from the inside just before Winry and Jack went down to the devils inside the chapel. Having back up and healing, they finish things up, but not without spending a ton of resources. I counted this as a huge success for me as I taxed them greatly without killing anyone and it was a really memorable encounter area.

The real shocker of the day though was at the end of the encounter in which they very nearly died, Winry grabs Jack and kisses him! We were all so shocked that we thought she was either joking or didn't understand what she was saying at first. This has been hanging over the group since then as she told him to wait until he could think it over before responding, but she didn't want to die without having done it. I had told the group coming in that I wasn't going to do much in regards to romance unless they pushed it. The last campaign had a bit of love and romance with the DM (me), so I didn't want to have to deal with it personally again. I told them they were welcome to, but I wasn't going to unless they pushed for it. I guess this is Winry pushing for it.

While exploring further, they did get to have a brief visual encounter with the inquisitor. They all assume this is Guthwulf who they have heard about (surprise on that in the future). Rev ends up breaking the mirror, fearing what might come of it. They do find the healing items which was great for them (and hopefully set things up for the 2nd floor ghosts as well) before they head back downstairs and into the grand foyer. They met back up with Clan Millorn here who were contemplating their next move. I had them wait here to allow the pump station encounter for the party and this allowed me to give the party the knowledge of the pump being needed before being able to head up as well. Getting directions, Rev decides to fully ignore them and check literally every other door on the way. First they head into the guest rooms and fight there. Jack charms the bulette and then pins it in place with an immovable rod which was fun. Then they opened the lift room and got ambushed by the Feaster within. This was another really memorable encounter for them as I had Bryn soul linked in the surprise round, Rev and Winry grabbed right after, and then even got to Suggestion Jack to run. Ultimately the feaster did not have quite enough HP to survive, but they were truly on the edge of a full wipe there with another couple bad rolls.

Licking their wounds, they prepare to make one final push to the pump station before wrapping up for the day. Hopefully this will go well as we are finally getting all together for an in-person session! Wish us luck as in just a few days we will be all meeting up and playing in person for the first time in like 10 years since we all started having kids!

Small changes -​

The group clearing out the barracks quickly does change things a bit for the random patrols, but my plan was to have the Assassination event happen after they take their first long rest. I also plan to involve the bulette which the group pacified instead of kill. That should make that encounter a bit more interesting in the future.

I am having Clan Millorn have a pretty understated role in the Castle exploration, really using them to avoid certain encounters and give information more than anything. I'm hoping this will still be enough of a role to allow the surprise at the end to be worthwhile. I've so far avoided just the horse track encounter as that was the way they were to go originally. I'm having them deal with the stone while the party heads to the pump to activate it together.

Myetharia has been having something of a bad time also. She took flametongue as an enchantment on her weapon, so when it healed the skeleton she was quite upset. She isn't the type to truly be mad thankfully as she understands that I'm not out to get her in specific, but it did get a rueful shake of the head for sure. Winry on the other end has truly been destroying with all the skeleton's weakness to bludgeoning. Feast and famine I suppose.



The Pressure Builds...​

Well, this was probably our best session of the campaign! We were able to play in person (the first time in probably 10 years) and for a much longer session than normal, so things were off to a good start even before we picked up the dice. Then the session itself had a bit of everything, some decent combat where the players got to feel smart, a number of situations that played into character strengths as it turned out, some humor, and a bit of roleplay encounter as well. I probably couldn't have scripted a better session to be the one that we play in person like this, and I didn't even try to line anything up specifically. Just a very fortunate accident that played out perfectly.

We led things off with the combat at the lift station. Opening the door with a scout rogue, they initially tried to retreat and keep their distance, but with the gnoll caster staying out of site and the skeleton fodder blocking their line of sight and taking defensive actions, they eventually closed in. This allowed the wall of fire to be dropped, rolling poor damage, and then was nearly immediately dropped by a perfect crossbow bolt weaving through all of the madness to hit the priority target and a natural 1 on concentration. With that gone, the combat wrapped quickly, the skeletons not standing up to the fury of a bludgeoning monk for long and the caster having his gimmick nearly instantly dropped. In retrospect, ideally I should have run the gnoll out of sight again after casting the wall to prevent this happening, but it did make for a really enjoyable moment for the party.

They debated for a moment what to do with the machinery they found, but a solid roll from Rev to understand things and a Mending cast solved the pumps problems just as the stream came unblocked from Clan Millorn's efforts down the waterway. The sound of water fills the castle walls as the pressure starts to build, but they know it will take the majority of a day for enough pressure to build to take the lift upwards. They also don't understand the mechanism there, thinking it a simple elevator where the floors are "numbered" in alphabetical order instead of a complicated puzzle. I was going to have Jorrina clue them in should it be required, but they wanted to press along anyway with the session having just started.

Continuing to stretch their resources as far as they could, the group opened the door to the bath house next. Inside they found the hellwasps and zombie beekeeper. They were about to just shut the door and leave, but Rev placed the creatures and realized the honey could be valuable and useful, so instead they headed in to try to communicate with the gesturing and grunting zombie (zombee?). Contrary to what the adventure said, I decided that with the water starting to pour into the hives, the beekeeper would actually be willing to parlay with the adventurers if they were willing to try to save his wasps. It took some diplomacy and some animal handling checks (which one of my players just loves having actually trained in them), but they were able to cap one of the baths from filling up and relocate the hive from the other together to allow the wasps to continue to thrive. In return, the beekeeper and wasps allowed them to harvest the honey from one of the hives, the fruits of their labors for the saving of their home. While it was intended to be a trap in the original, or the hives were to be destroyed if the water filled in, the timing allowed it to be something of a desperate situation instead of fighting.

Finally, with Clan Millorn searching the other side of the lower level, the group heads up towards the banquet hall and the group resisting and hiding from the Dark Pyre. While they stealthed around to search the area, I wanted to get the information out to the party that this group was different before they found their way inside. So even though they avoided the main door, I had them roll stealth (which the cleric rolled awfully at of course) to allow the brief song from Findle to be heard from within mocking the skeletons who couldn't get in. By the time that they found the secret passage, Jack nearly falling prey to the false map, they had an idea that these were not necessarily enemies. So instead of coming in guns blazing, they came in disguise. Lord Gorquith saw through the disguises immediately of course, knowing all of his retinue by this point all too well, but did allow them the chance to speak.

I got to have a lot of fun with a ooze slopping around, using the skull of the skeleton inside the gel to speak. It explained the situation that these found themselves in, undead but resisting the true enemies upstairs, and willing to work together for the right price... life anew. The party already had the scroll of resurrection from the chapel previously, but have no one at a high enough level to cast it naturally of course. This became a very tense dice roll as Bryn attempted to use the scroll, backed up by Enhance Ability, bardic inspiration, and guidance all, and successfully raised Gorquith back from his ooze state! In return, the man plunges his hand back inside the ooze (for dramatic effect) and pulls free a scrap of paper with the code to the lift written upon it. Suddenly it all clicks for the party and they are thanking their lucky stars that they didn't just try to pull the lift handle right away as they realize just how dead they would have likely been since it wouldn't stop once begun.

The other undead nobles look at Gorquith with a mixture of resentment and hunger, but he tells the party not to worry about him but to get on their way up to take down Coaltongue (who he believes is still in control) and the inquisitor Griiat who killed him. My party had been thinking that it was Guthwulf in the mirror and who was in control of things here since he had been a repeated name as a thorn in their side, but now they wonder just who it will be at the top of the castle awaiting them.

The sequence found, the waters building, and the lift secured, the party stops to take their long rest as the end of our session comes up. But one more thing happens before we can wrap up. Jack and Winry decided to record their discussion ahead of time about what happened and what is going to happen going forward. They both thought that doing such intimate roleplay live for the first session in person in forever would be incredibly awkward, especially given that they are both married to other players in the game, so they pre-recorded the social encounter instead with me listening in. It was perfect and so well received by everyone as Jack bumbled his way through, talking over much and understanding too little, but in the end getting just right where he needed to as in the end the two of them come walking back to the tiny hut of Bryn's holding hands and ready to move forward together.

I know there were a fair number of things that went different from the adventure in pretty small ways, but overall the session was nearly perfect. We did still record this one, though it will be around 4 hours long instead of our normal roughly 2 hours, and it was done with 1 mic on a boom over the center of the table. I hope that we can get that uploaded in short order and get things caught up there as I know we have been behind a bit, but we are all really pleased as to how the campaign is going and wish we could do this more often.

Thanks for reading the write up! I'll be back in a couple of weeks and going forward with more regular updates as our sessions happen from now on! Next time, a ride up into the pyre's heart.


At this rate, despite starting a full year behind my game, you'll likely finish a year ahead as well. Any suggestions for keeping a game moving along?


Well, we started well before we began releasing our episodes edited. We actually started in May 2021 on this campaign despite when I first posted here. We play for about 2 hours most weeks, maybe 40-45 weeks a year, though, so not that long of a time in total.

To answer the question though, I don't know? I skip some things that I don't find necessary since I don't do xp for leveling anyway. We've been picking up steam recently, though I felt like sometimes things crawled, especially in Seaquen. We don't take a break (as it's only 2 hours), so we don't have much unfocused time during our sessions. We get that out beforehand.

I think we're roughly on pace to end in another 2 years or so. I'm not sure if you've done similar estimates or not.

If you want, our sessions are all available in RAW from 1 to Caela right now with scheduled releases every week for the next 2 months I think? You can check in on one of them to see if I do anything really different from you for some reason.



Jaws Revenge​

Just kidding about the next session being a ride up to the pyre's heart, I had an idea.

But first, a few revelations before the party rests. First up, Winry decided it was time to stop with the spell casting. While the subclass was fun in theory, she was finding herself not using the casting much due to costs in ki points and generally felt it wasn't useful. Beyond that, she was more intrigued by the Living Weapon and her connection with it than with the monks of the Monastery. We decided to put her on the Way of the Living Weapon subclass instead (perfect name, right?) which is unofficial but created for Eberron by Keith Baker. The interesting thing about this subclass is its ability to hit at range and with the Living Weapon already having flavor in our campaign of shifting while she wields it from fist to fist to shin, etc., it felt like the perfect fit. Being able to say that she was leaving the spells up to Jack and focusing on fisticuffs was another bonus.

The other major plot point came with Jack talking with his sword Parallax. This might have been glossed over before, but Simeon had given Jack a sentient weapon back before they left on this trip out. This weapon coincided with Jack taking a couple levels in hexblade warlock, which while it is technically against the rules to do so with a sentient weapon, the rules are what I want. In this case, it serves as his pact weapon and the sentient voice his patron. He had been prodding at it periodically, trying to decide what was going on with this connection, if they were evil, so on. And this time I decided to give more information as he pressed further. The force in the blade states that it is a splinter of the power from the Stormchaser Eagle Avilona. I had planned to have something happen if he cast any lightning or thunder spells, but I missed Booming Blade which had been used... oops. My goal for this arc is to have more reasons for someone to take up the power at the end of the campaign, so that was the ultimate end. It was also a way for me to be able to give deep lore if the party needs direction either getting to the next adventure or in the end game. My hope is this will provide one more hook to pull them to the final confrontation emotionally. Hopefully this plays out well as I had meant to avoid "deity level" NPCs in this campaign.

I knew that my players were going to have just had a long rest and leveled up, so they would be fully fresh for the fight upstairs. I wanted to at least tax them a tiny bit before that, plus I really hadn't had a great chance to use any of the patrol fights, so I decided this was the perfect opportunity to just cause a small amount of chaos. As their rest is ending, the water pressure stops building. Thinking that perhaps it was ready earlier than expected, the group decides to try the lift despite having told Clan Millorn to stay elsewhere than their Tiny Hut. As the door closes and the lift tries to rise, there isn't enough pressure and it falls back to the ground, depressurizing. The door opens and Clan Millorn rushes in, half eaten breakfast in their hands, thinking that the worst had happened - they'd been betrayed by the party.

Instead, a clanging noise draws the party back towards the water pump where a handful of skeletons are attempting sabotage instead. Thinking this seemed pretty straightforward, the group charges in until Jack wonders if there's a trick at play. He instead rushes back to the lift and places an immoveable rod activated on the ground covered with his bags and cloak to hide it, hoping to prevent the halflings from taking the lift without them instead (DM note - I'm not so sure this would have stopped the lift anyway, but it wasn't a concern). As the group funnels into the hallway leading to the pump station, Reddengot drifts through the wall and attempts to life drain from the backline. He also has freed the bulette that had been pinned in the guest suites previously and it comes crashing through the floor to attack as well.

The battle quickly got chaotic, especially without their controller to unbalance numbers, but honestly they took down the enemies quite quickly. It did lead to one of the best moments of the campaign though as the previously charmed bulette saw Jack again when very low on life. Instead of taking an attack on its turn on Winry, it saw the chance to charge at a group, including Jack, and squash the lot of them. As it charged forwards though, Winry opportunistically lands a punch, Free Willy style, and drops the land shark just before it reaches its mark. The dying body drifts up to Jack's feet with a look of supreme disappointment of promises broken and love denied.

The rest was clean up after Reddengot was one round killed. The skeletons were able to break the pump again, but Bryn used Control Water to keep the pressure while Rev fixed the broken section of pipe. All in all, a small diversion for the party, but a few resources expended at least and a memorable moment had.

As they returned to the lift, the group had to confront their passive aggressive moves and attempted to strongarm the Clan from joining on the upper floor. Jorrina countered Jack's accusations of non-helpfulness and distrust with the fact that the Clan is already having to just take the group at their word anyway. In the end, no deals are reneged on, though it was a close decision for the party to not resort to aggression and just KO the halflings. There was discussion about just knocking them out and leaving them behind, and while I did not say as much, this would have been tantamount to murder for me with the enemies around. 8 hours of unconsciousness without guards should really be a death sentence in a dungeon in my eyes. While this may never have left the Castle, it would have changed my opinions of them as they had been fairly good up until then when the murder-hobo urge was nearly overwhelming.

As the lift begins to rise, we end the session, so next time will really start the upper floor!


I was not expecting that reference.



Up to the Third Floor​

After a ton of side conversation about whether they would really be taking Clan Millorn after all, it was eventually decided that the party probably shouldn't change their decision after making one at least. As such, Jack stepped up to the controls and began the lift. As the door starts to close, they catch a glimpse of a Ragesian soldier and make eye contact for just a moment before they turn to call out and the door slams shut. Not as far ahead as they thought they would be, the party is now scared that things may not end as well as they hoped for.

At the top of the lift, Clan Millorn vanishes off through the tunnels while Rev begins to scout the hallway before them. Not noticing the glyph, nor hearing the skeletons through the walls, Rev steps onto the dispel glyph and immediately loses a buff he was given, though nothing too big. After a moment, noises begin to come through the walls as the skeletons line up shots. Only Winry and Bryn are not surprised, so there is some damage that comes through first. I thought about dropping the wall of fire right away, but I didn't want to cage everyone on the lift, so I wanted at least a couple people to come well into the passageway first to draw the rest of the group out with the fire. Winry ran through the entire upper floor nearly with her feline agility, Myetharia moved up to the passage, and with Jack and Bryn still around as well, the fire is dropped and begins to roast them.

The party took the offensive right away and began to attack the visible skeletons, but no one could find the secret doors into the shooting galleries, so they stayed safe. They weren't the most effective though, not only because of their low damage output, but also because very few people stayed around in the flame to be shot at. After a moment of fighting, Grellfin of Clan Millorn pops up from behind the skeleton lines and bashes some down, telling the party to move on and find the controller as the Clan can take care of these. The idea was to get the party to move forward into the dance hall together and engage with Griiat instead.

Well, some of the party took the bait, but a beaten up Winry helped to hold the backlines instead. She got crit by a sneak attack and took around 2/3 of her health in one attack to start off the combat, so it could have gone better for the group at the start. Bryn ended up taking 2 rounds of flames as well and was around half health before making it through as well. Rev was the first through into the hall and learned about the controllable gravity first. He took full advantage of it walking up the wall and shooting down from strange angles towards the skeletons in the rear while hiding from view. Everything looked in control until Griiat appeared.

Things took a turn as the walls of fire appeared in the dance hall as well, cutting off the way forward. Jack however had different ideas. Rushing into the room and seeing the inquisitor to be partially spectral, he immediately begins the Song of Forms and traps Griiat into the Material Plane, preventing his ability to walk through walls and similar. I decided that this should probably drop his resistances as well, as without that he is effectively a normal humanoid. A few bow shots later and Griiat was bloodied by the time he was summoning a large fire elemental to defend him. I was hopeful that this would crank up the difficulty a bit and keep everyone interested and excited (as some people were getting sick of dealing with skeletons, especially Myetharia when she couldn't get up close and was stuck shooting non-magical bow shots for puny damage), but things were turned on their heads yet again by Jack.

On his next turn, Jack casts Wall of Force around the entrance to the Dark Pyre, trapping inside a dome both the fire elemental and Griiat. I tried to have Griiat Overmaster this spell cast, but Jack rolled a natural 20 and couldn't be stopped. Now this became a problem, but probably not for the reasons you may think. Griiat was trapped inside - he has no teleport, he was no longer able to use the Ethereal Plane to move through objects (and couldn't for Wall of Force anyway), cannot dispel it and cannot break it down. The fire elemental no better. But I had really wanted the 2 of them to provide a bit of spice and then die relatively quickly to resolve things for this fight. I knew people were sick of things, but now I had a problematic situation where there are a load of non-threatening skeletons sitting in wall of fire healing against a group of adventurers sitting in Twilight Sanctuary. I don't think any meaningful damage would happen unless people went into the fire, and the skeletons are too stupid to sacrifice themselves in order to try to focus Jack. The problem wasn't my encounter being trivialized, but rather our time being wasted.

As such, I made a mistake. I decided that instead of playing it all out, we would just wrap up for the night and pick things up next time with the walls coming down and the minion skeletons dealt with. The problem with this wasn't the result, but that it felt like I was punishing Jack for a good use of a spell by saying the session is over. Oops. I've had to do some apologizing since then and explaining, but in the end everyone has agreed that the correct solution was to not waste an hour of our time mopping up a result that was dealt with and instead move forward to the more interesting parts. As such, next session is going to start with a brief compilation of the group smashing skele-boys, healing up, and then dropping the walls.

Problem solving​

Now the next part - what to do about Wall of Force. There have been a lot of enemies up until this point that have misty step which would nullify this, but what I don't want is for it to become too common a tactic for making a challenging encounter into 2 trivial ones. As far as I know, the only answers to this are breaking concentration (which requires intelligent enemies and enough firepower remaining to allow it), teleportation, or counterspelling it before it locks in. I plan to do some looking ahead to see what the options are (for instance Rhuarc I believe has Misty step to prevent this), but if anyone else has thoughts on the matter and how to not let it get too common, let me know!

Next time, the truth of the firestorm!​




Deception, Part Deux​

After last week's events, we met up as a group and decided that while not ideal, it was the best use of our time to avoid the mop up work on the skeletons. Without their wall of fire for healing and distance, they would quickly fall to the attacks of the party. After they were mopped up, and with Griiat hidden slightly around the doorframe, the group took a moment to heal up before mopping the floor with the ex-Inquisitor. The elemental got one attack off on Myetharia, Griiat attempted a hold person on Winry as she approached, but it was counterspelled by Jack. As that was already his reaction, Griiat couldn't stop the counterspell and got punched a couple of times and died. Exactly why I was rolling my eyes last week came true as the fight was over very quickly and rather anti-climactically.

Taking the time to consider, the party searches through the Dark Pyre room and notices the silhouettes. They are able to discern the weapons they hold as well as their pointed ears, leading them to think that elves were responsible for the actions here. Rev also braves the heat of the room in order to look out the clear wall and finds what they all feared - Ragesian troops, with Shahalesti support, are amassing in the canyon below. Rev even picks out the blonde hair of Shalosha with bodyguards to Myetharia's expected disappointment. Myetharia is worried about confronting her childhood friend again and scared that she may not be that friend anymore to the party. I, however, am looking forward to that discussion quite a bit.

Moving deeper in, Clan Millorn reports little of interest down the side wing, so they move into the Emperor's rooms. Noting the scribbled writings of Darius, as well as his wracked body, they begin to piece together meanings. Rev continues searching around and finds the treasure horde while Winry gets some light burglary in on the gem encrusted torches. Honorably splitting the treasure horde with Clan Millorn, who allows the party to pick their share of the items first (just easier if the party gets the things they want), the group ends up with the golden armor, magic sword (I changed to a rapier for Rev), and 2 of the floating diamonds while the rest heads off with Clan Millorn. Winry also begs her way into a small slice of the necromantic cheese, so I get to figure out something fun with that... or just keep it forever mysterious... my choice.

Back with Darius, they learn of his full story including the elves that attacked and took the body of Coaltongue and Torch with them. The general consensus in the group now is concern as they feel they are backed into a bad corner with little to no ways out. I would agree that this is one of the problems of this adventure in a way, the lack of continuation into the next, so we will have some fun in the next episode or 2 wrapping things up.

As they prepare their escape and go to look back out the window again, a cry for Ernest to quit it gets their attention. They turn to find the halfling before the skeleton of Syana, but the form quickly blurs and they recognize their old nemesis Deception once again. As the dragon forms with Aggression's essence attached to Syana's bones, we end the session with quite the cliffhanger start to a climactic battle.

Changes to the module -​

Some small changes here. First I had to change the prophesy from Longinus at the start. I never mentioned it then, but I changed the word Deception to Deceit in the prophesy. I knew my players would catch on too quickly if I used the actual word and I didn't want them to jump on it before even going to the castle or they would have been even more paranoid about Clan Millorn than they already were. Secondly, I was going to remove the palanquin entirely from the adventure, but decided too late that I should just leave it in. I was going to have the more dramatic resolution of Shalosha urge them to jump and cast fly on them to escape, but I wasn't sure they would do it. I'm still going to try to once they peer out (or just jump out to escape the dragon, though it sounds like they want to fight straight up), but this way it is not forced. So instead of it being in the Dark Pyre room, I had it as an emergency escape card in the treasure horde. If they don't use it and I don't want to deal with it later, I can always have the card do nothing, or summon a comically small version, something similar in the future.

Next time, Golden Wings Take Flight!​


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