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WotBS Fuzzybear's Burning Sky



A Dragon Dogfight​

The dragon scales forming, Myetharia first attempts to converse with Syana and convince her to help defend against Ragesian violence again. With this beast being Aggression with Syana's bones, I did not consider her to have any of the history of Syana at all beyond using her bones for form, so all she got back into her mind was a string of murder, kill, death. Seeing their time to skedaddle, the group runs into the pyre room, summons the sleigh, hops on, and flies it out through the wall and over the gathering Ragesians with Bryn piloting. Shalosha and her bodyguards see the group flying above and quickly cast Fly on themselves to chase as 2 Ragesian wyvern riders give chase as well.

After a few moments though, the dragon comes crashing through the walls as well, giving chase to the prey before it. Immediately unleashing its gaseous breath on the trailing bodyguards and wyverns, the fight quickly becomes Aggression against the party and Shalosha (who was by pure chance 1 square outside of the range). The party slows some to allow Shalosha to catch up and gain the benefits of the sleigh, but the battle takes a dangerous turn when it also allows Aggression to catch up and breath flames across everyone, bringing many to critical levels even despite the protection from fire (I rolled something like 90 damage on that and a few were still not at full health quite after Griiat and the inability to heal).

With further attacks both directions including Myetharia flying out to attempt to distract the dragon, Jack ends up down temporarily. Bryn revives him on the next turn, but things are looking dangerous if the dragon breathes another gout of flame (or confusion gas). Shalosha sees the danger and charges in to assist Myetharia, harkening back to their days as youths training together long before any of this. With coordination from Rev and the will to defend Shalosha, Myetharia uses her fighting spirit to gain advantage on 6 attacks (action surge), all of which hit and 1 crits, to drop nearly 100 hp from the monster, but not quite take its life.

The whole battle hinges on one dice roll, does the dragon recharge its breath weapon again or not... and the answer is no. A full round of attacks isn't enough to drop anyone else, but the beast is low enough for Winry to charge in and mop up with one last slash from the Living Weapon, now being used like a chain whip.

As the body disintegrates falling towards the canyon, Shalosha tells the group to keep flying, away from the Ragesians, so they can talk. She answers their questions as best she can about trusting Magdus to some degree, giving voice to the idea that there may be good people on both sides of this conflict, as well as apologizing to Myetharia for lying to her about what she had been doing recently. In return, the party asks her about the scrawled messages and learns about Ycengled Phuurst and Rhuarc, giving the party direction on where to go next. Shalosha is well on their side by this point, so she plans to return to her father and say only that the Torch was not in Castle Korstull, trying to keep hidden that she knows more about where to go next, trying to give the party an advantage. We'll see how well that works, but that is her plan at least. She also tells the party to head to the west to the sea where her entourage has a warship that will take them back towards Seaquen to drop them off as they return to Calanis.

We end the session with the Castle cleared, information gained, and a ride home secured, but with a fair amount of disappointment that they were effectively "your-princess-is-in-another-castle'd" with a bait and switch. Hopefully their disappointment will only last as long as the next adventure though, because many more answers and power awaits them in the near future. In the mean time, we will have a small action break for an episode if I had to guess while the party heads to Seaquen, talks a lot and checks in with everyone there, and then figures out their way out and into adventure once more.

Changes and Future Thoughts​

No major changes. Shalosha for me is much more involved than many campaigns likely due to some noble elf backgrounds that were chosen. She is very much a way for me to get information to the party in a semi-trusted way. The battle went really well and really could have been deadly with one more d6 roll going in the dragon's favor.

From here it is about a 14 day ship ride to Seaquen, so we will have a fair amount of downtime to work through. Then I hope to get them to stay in Seaquen for a bit and give some time to Shalosha and events away from town to happen. If I can get that, the meeting at the temple will make a lot more sense. Myetharia has some history with the Taranesti, and Jack has siblings high in Shahalesti, so I'm planning on having both of these come up in the next adventure. I've also spent some time figuring out the visions for the temple, so I am very excited for those events.

Next time, we return to rest and consider!​


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A Return to Shelter​

This review is actually 2 sessions because they naturally fit together well, though it might get a bit long and rambling as a lot of assorted roleplaying happened. These couple of hours of playtime took place between escaping Castle Korstull with Shalosha and leaving for Ycengled to start the next adventure. I believe there were a grand total of 2 dice rolls per person over these sessions. It was very talking heavy which was a great break from the weeks of combat recently.

Breaking camp after their sleigh ride out, the group heads with Shalosha to her warships on the coast of Sindaire which she instructs to head back around the continent towards home. On the way, Shalosha reaches out to some of her contacts back in Calanis to do a little bit of research into Ycengled for the party. She is able to relay all of the relevant information about the region this way. She also has a talk with Myetharia during the ride where she apologizes again for lying about her location and activity. She promises to do better going forward and reinforces her creed of working with good people regardless of race or background. She considers Magdus one such person despite being Ragesian as well as the party themselves.

The rest of the party spends most of the boat trip back to Seaquen sending messages to contacts and scrying on family members. Bryn scries on her estranged husband Brent and finds out that he has surprisingly taken up arms in Gate Pass in defense of the city. Rev asks Bryn to scry on his brother Riv after assuming Aemon Ming would have some defense against it (correctly) and finds him flying through remote Ostalin and purchasing supplies. The next time he tries though, the spell fails prompting concern. I considered Tempest to be scrying proof which is causing these problems as Ming has cast his lot there. I plan to have him show up in later adventures as a future plot point, so I don't want to spoil things too early, especially with Rev getting a lot of the early game spotlight.

After a week and a half, the party is dropped off a short distance from Seaquen in the marshlands as Shalosha continues home. She promises to do her best to keep their information about the torch and the assassins from her father if possible as she does not trust her father with the torch. She is working against him but trying to do so subtly so as to not raise his suspicions and ire against her. They finish the trip back and report in to Simeon after a long time of no contact. Now knowing what the next steps are, Simeon informs the party that they will have a few days rest while he prepares things with Sheena Larkins for teleportation out to Ycengled to search for the assassins and torch wielders.

This allows the party a much needed time to spend their hard earned gold from Castle Korstull as well as time to check in with friends and family further. I won't run down every item bought, but suffice it to say that nearly everyone had interest in Misty Step tattoos independently. Items procured, each person visits a handful of NPCs around town to check in. The green dragon in the swamp, the goblins, Crystin, Torrent, Eril, and Tiljann are all briefly interacted with, though little new information is learned. We got to reconnect some player knowledge with the characters though as Tiljann was a part of the one-shot to Ragos months ago where the players learned that not all in Ragesia supports Leska's actions and plans.

The big items of information that are found out is that Katrina has left town, seeming reluctant but resolute, and a deeper conversation with Three Weeping Ravens. Having heard that the party is heading to Ycengled, he feels it his duty to inform them about the Temple of Echoed Souls there that his order was driven from decades prior (allowing me to give the party the info in the lore panel). Bryn also asks him more about the soul gems that they found (and used one of to power the sleigh). He tells that others use the power of souls destructively, though fueling artifacts beyond the Torch was new to him. I wanted to get the information out there early that Soul Gems were needed for the Torch so that it wouldn't be as disconnected that they needed to forge a new one. In the end this likely won't be necessary as the party decided to head to the Temple first anyway.

Winry and Jack have a very cute date night in the Wayfarer's ship that Jack borrowed, which is something of a shared backstory ambition of both of them. Jack provided the music and taught Winry some noble dances while Winry bought a pair of sending stone made from sentimental items (Balan's harmonica for Jack and a bell for kitty cat Winry).

Now we get into the meat, and a big change, of the last session. Jack hires researchers at Lyceum to look into the Stormchaser/Stormbringer Eagle (side note, both names are used in the guide books I realized) and Aquiline Heart given the discussions with Parallax his sword (gosh I hope I've mentioned this before). He gets back a handful of rumors and half information that will become more relevant for the end game than it is now, but he is getting confirmation as well that Parallax's story about being a part of the Eagle's mind could be true. My hope is that this will pay off long term, but I worry that I should have drip fed things a bit more than I did. I wanted to give him reward for spending money on research as he did, but now I have to keep it up. I did make up a fun children's rhyme verse if anyone wants to use it as well.

The Eagle's heart is power,
its beats forever strong,
and if you were to drink its blood
your heart would beat along.

The Dragon feared to finish things
that earth and sea unite,
so deep within he hid the heart
its flow new life alight.

The final thing that happened also involves Jack. His player was starting to feel that with Jack's terrible Performance rolls essentially at every opportunity and his failure to bring peace through diplomacy, he might be considering a change towards Wizard from Bard. The idea being that he's giving up the naïve and musical aspects to dive fully into spellcasting. I had previously allowed him to learn ritual spells like a Wizard to give the group a bit more magical flexibility, so this is something of an extension of that. The final straw that brought this down though was actually the Ancient Spellbook found in Castle Korstull. The antiquated magic spells contained within were intriguing to him, so I decided to connect all of this together.

We decided that the book is antiquated because it relies on a method of casting that is not used in modern magic; a different way of manipulating the Weave effectively. But with Parallax, and the ability to read these ancient languages that he possesses while holding the sword, Jack is able to understand and learn. The spells described within deal with gravity and time (plugging in a rare subclasses and spells from the Wildemount book) that would be impossible for modern casters to learn. Jack's goal is now to use the Temple of Echoed Souls to change his soul to become a Wizard that this book describes, which sounds awesome. That in his back pocket now, he pushes for the group to head to the Temple first which they agree to.

So it is that Simeon returns, a full 2 weeks (20 days) out from Castle Korstull by this point, and tells the group to be ready that night for Sheena to teleport them. Gathering together, the world becomes fire as she channels her magic, and that is where we left things off. The only thing forgotten in all of this was that darn necromantic cheese... oh well, next time.

Changes to the module -​

I'd love to list off the changes of this session, but they are plentiful. The main things being adding optional subclasses and spells, expounding a lot on characters and lore, and the party heading off to the Temple first in the next adventure. I don't think it will be a problem to push them off to Ycengled afterwards, and they'll have the required Soul Gem for when they get there which makes the need to send them across afterwards moot. I did give a handful of days to get the other party in position (not enough for Shalosha technically, but I'm going to make her show up slightly worse for wear from being forced to teleport there in a rush) with the information to search this region from Shaaladel. I am looking foward to the vision very much having bullet pointed all of them already. I will probably go through and write full prose for them as well, but the Temple is one of the things that I was most looking forward to anyway.

Next time, a journey of self-discovery!​




The Truth of a Vision​

This review will be for the whole of the Temple of Echoed Souls (save the discussion afterwards). I waited to do a write up for a good section to be completed rather than every session; hopefully that is an improvement and not a disappointment, but we shall see.

With a fiery burst, the group arrives at the Temple hidden just off the coast of the ocean. Built into the wall of a cliff facing away from the water, it has stayed mainly unnoticed through the years since the genocide that occurred in its proximity in the past. As they start heading inside, they remember about Three Weeping Ravens' warning about how the temple worked and realized they needed to go up with an even number of people on each side. With Jack's owl familiar, Puck, (who technically shouldn't have counted but was more fun to count), they had to try a second time before the correct number of bells were ringing on each side and they crack open the doors.

Inside they immediately got suspicious, though not of Haathon. Listening to the story of what happened at the temple, and then the interruption by 41, they assumed the worst. Rev explored the side rooms, but wouldn't go inside or touch anything fearing that there would be punishments instead of benefits for doing so. Instead they stood on their spots and merged into the mirror to begin the trials right away.

The first vision they got was of Rev back when he was Rayland, before his original death, running for his life. Looking over his shoulder he sees a ghostly dragon closing in and knows it is futile. As a last resort, Rayland turns around and yells to his companions Leska and Etinifi to run while he stalls it. A haunting song fills the air, the claws rake and jaws snap, as the sound of a sonorous bell rings and draws them back to the present.
Rayland joined with Etinifi in searching for the heart for his master Aemon Ming who has been searching for a cure for a wasting disease his daughter has. When Leska came to Seaquen to search through records in the past of the Aquiline Heart, Rayland joined with eventually ending with them at the Heart of History. Here Rayland sacrifices himself against Time to give them some time prior to any betrayal between the other two later.

Back in the present, they take a bit of damage from the bell by talking at first but quickly figure out the door and get it opened without too much trouble. They get separated into 2 groups here for the sinister/righteous paths, Bryn and Winry among the lava, Myetharia, Jack, and Rev in the rain. The next vision plays of young Bryn walking at night with her father home. They run out of lantern oil in the dark and she gets scared, but her father teaches her not to be afraid of the dark and navigate by the stars. This forged Bryn's connection to the twilight that manifest in her cleric subclass now.

Shockingly it is Rev who accidentally solves the problem here by sacrificing himself. While he had misunderstood one of the previous statements on the way in, it effectively worked out for them. Rev drops dead immediately upon thinking of sacrificing himself and once Winry figures out what happened, she does the same. Honestly I was shocked, they didn't explain things until afterwards, the rest of the party was terrified they had just lost friends... it was a great time honestly. But they successfully got the keys required and pulled their friends' bodies through the portals and into the next room where they are revived and the next vision plays.

The next vision is of them working together in the hurricane, fighting Lee Sidoneth to save Seaquen before it transitions to the entrance of the temple and the other party arriving. No one thought this was real. Between Rayland's vision about Leska and then this, they were convinced that 41 was screwing with the visions they saw to get a rise out of them (and honestly it is a really good fear). It was then quit ethe shock when after another couple of visions, the other party is in the room with them and ready to fight.

Before they arrive though, Myetharia appears as a younger girl back in Calanis. As she bumps into an older human man she starts to apologize before meeting his eyes. Recognition occurs and in the blink of an eye, swords are drawn from both in the middle of the city street. Swords clash, but it is clear that she is young and lithe while his body is betraying him in age, so it isn't long before his sword slashes her ribs, hers pierces his neck. As he collapses, Myetharia does as well, overwhelmed with emotions. She drops her sword as the guards circle in, tackling her to the ground, and places cuffs upon her.
This was Myetharia's former love Alram. In a complicated backstory, Myetharia fell in with a human rogue in her early life before a heist went bad and ended with Alram killing her father, Rydel. Many years pass in grief before she meets him again on the streets randomly and kills him without thinking. She surrenders herself and serves her time before leaving Calanis and heading to Gate Pass. This was not talked about with the rest of the party until now, so I am interested to see what everyone thinks of her past.

Katrina is then exposed as working for Leska in the next vision which was unchanged, but did get some good responses around the table, and then the battle is on. I did make a few small changes to the visions in the battle - Myetharia was visible in the vision of Taranesti fighting as she was there, there was a vision of the line at Gallo's Fend, and I put some more information in the purge vision to give the party more hints towards Phorros Irrendra since they haven't been there yet. I also took some time to cement Shaaladel as ruthless and desperate here, combining a vision of him watching Taranesti tied to a tree with another of him ordering Innenotdar's burning. Partly this was to make sure everyone saw this side of him, but also it was to explain for Shalosha why she was still here but changed sides fully.

The combat was chaotic and frenetic. For GMs running this, good luck. There are simply a ton of unique enemies with a lot going on and it is nearly impossible to not get bogged down in honestly. It was though very memorable for the party and they did enjoy it greatly. Katrina and Shalosha took the first turn looking shocked, not realizing who they were here to get until now, before turning on their companions. Shalosha then got overwhelmed with the visions of her father and cemented her turn. Katrina will be dealt with afterwards where we will see how the party decides to deal with her, though I think it will be favorably. In the end, half of the enemies were dead, half were mass suggested to run away, and we entered the climax of this section.

One last round of visions before 41 appeared, these were mainly just a small piece of their past for fun, but the one that really got everyone going was of Myetharia playing with Shalosha as a child while in the background their father's talked. "She is my daughter", Rydel says before Shaaladel retorts "She is my blood".
So this one was sort of a "yes and" for my players. 2 of them had been speculating that Myetharia was Shalosha's sister instead, so I ran with it. In reality, Shaaladel needed an heir, badly, and was not unsuccessful with his wife. He took a mistress only for his wife to immediately become pregnant, causing concern for the succession. As a result, the mistress was sent away and married herself to an understanding man to live in Court, but never as royalty. In the meantime, Shalosha is born, Shaaladel's wife dies, Myetharia's father is killed, and it ends with Shaaladel supporting Myetharia's broken mother financially in secret (as he isn't heartless) as Myetharia spirals away.

The last visions are not any different than normal, and the fight with 41 proceeds. It was not obvious to them that the initial 41 was an apparition, so I had Haathon show up to direct them deeper towards a hidden door. It wasn't obvious if I should, but I made the portcullis not visible immediately and had a hidden doorway there to prevent them leaving during the previous combat. After a few searches, the door opens, the portcullis lifted, and the party moves in to finish things off. I make this all sound simple, but in reality the projection was ripping them apart - casting Hypnotic pattern on more than half of them, stealing Bryn's 7th level spell slot as a brutal spiritual weapon, casting her Twilight Sanctuary for himself... it was great fun. It was also cathartic for them in the end to destroy him once they were all awake and got to the real one.

And that is where we left things off as 41 dies. I haven't gotten any of their responses in character to the visions yet as the events have been frantic and fast paced for the 3 sessions we've played here, so I am very much looking forward to letting them have a more chill session next time to talk things through and figure everything out. They are all very excited and enjoyed this section though for sure, so I would recommend doing all you can to prepare meaningful and interesting visions here as it made for a great spectacle. I know I said it last time, but I will say it again now - I was looking forward to this section for a long time in order to get a lot of reveals in, so I'm glad that it worked out as well as it did.

Changes from the module -​

I wrote my own visions of course where the module recommended it, but beyond that it played very close to what was written. The real changes were what the visions told of - Rev's past with Leska herself and Myetharia being of Shaaladel's blood. We will see how those changes ripple in the future, but for now they are fascinating to watch the responses of.



Into Ycengled​

This will be a recap of the next few sessions, from the end of the temple until heading to Phorros Irrendra. This may be shorter though as it mainly ran smoothly and according to the story.

Coming out of the combat, the group takes some time to consider the meanings behind the visions that they just saw. They question Katrina and Shalosha, though mainly believe them both in regards to their reasons for being there. Neither gets a substantial grilling, though I think we will see more on how they react when we return to Seaquen again for Katrina. More questions revolve around Myetharia and her past, both in regards to her killing the man and her potential parentage. In the end, the group assumes the visions are true and asks Shalosha to some secrets again from her father.

The biggest event, though perhaps vastly undersold given how long I was thinking about it before it happened, is Jack's reclass from bard to wizard. He decides to take Chronomancy as his specialty and tries to flavor and pick his spells based on this theme when possible. His goal is to combine the magic from the ancient spellbook with Parallax (and the Stormchaser Eagle through the sword) to change the world. I do regret not having something more epic happen here, but what is done is done. The good part is that in the first fights after his class change, Jack shone and output a ton of damage which helped mitigate this failure. He also has of course rolled very well on performance checks since changing out from being a bard... quite ironic.

It isn't clear to me, especially since the group has to still head into Ycengled Phuurst, what Shalosha and Katrina do after this since they can't just teleport away. I decided to have them head towards Shahalesti controlled lands to the south, bypassing the Ragesian encampment (which I end up skipping mainly anyway), in order to return to civilization. The party decides to take a rest since it is well after midnight before heading into the forest the next day.

Inside the forest, I did spook them a bit, but I didn't want to go overboard with it. Our group has had a brush with Curse of Strahd in the past and really did not enjoy it, so I didn't want to remind them more than required of those events if possible. We did do the combat with the trees though along with a few of the harmless oddities to set the mood before the procession arrived. I made sure to have the procession comment on Myetharia singularly since she had been there during the destruction in the past. She was not a part of the truly terrible events, but she was a part of the fighting that occurred against the Taranesti elves in the region. As such she is called a murderer by the procession, but does her best to atone for her past mistakes.

In the end, after killing the Shahalesti rangers that they encountered without a second thought, the group meets up with Fayne and befriends her. She points them towards the henge which they had seen a vision of already. She leads them there without any more attacks, and when they arrive, they seem as full of bloodlust as Fayne is supposed to be. I make her outdo them in the end as she brutally kills a couple of stragglers trying to escape the melee on the henge which prompts some surprised reactions. They do get Fayne's trust though and she gives them information for making it to Phorrus Irrendra. This ends up being a bit of a moot point as they also decide to complete the ritual with Bryn providing darkness, Myetharia dancing with her 2 swords, and Jack and Winry taking the walking roles. Having now bonded with the forest, they know the route themselves and head there the next session.

I'll include the tunnel with the next write up of the rest of the adventure.

Changes from the module -​

I skipped a few combat encounters here to try not to dwell in the area too long and remind people of Barovia, but the party also did a very good job of talking and figuring things out quickly as well. It felt wrong to continue with combat encounters when they roleplayed, were invested, and worked actively to solve events. I did forget one vision, the last one, from the temple, so I just added it randomly in the forest instead (oops). I didn't penalize them for having Shahalesti quite so aggressively, but I did have it balance out their good deeds when rolling for convincing Fayne of their good intentions. They still did admirably and got her on their side easily enough, even without their bard now. I also skipped the Shahalesti brigade as they did well and didn't need to convince Fayne of any more. I may have something more involving the Shahalesti later though as I still need to bring Jack's family and Myetharia's more directly into the plot at some point... I was thinking this might fit between adventures 8 and 9, but we shall see.



Phorros Irrendra​

The next few sessions are from entering to exiting Phorros Irrendra. As an aside for @RangerWickett - Is Rhuarc an homage to Wheel of Time?

Heading into the tunnel, the group was not so concerned about the lack of light... right up until combat started. As they ran into a couple women in the tunnel, they began talking to them. In the back, Rev was approached by a 3rd who attempted to charm him, but Rev was able to resist and realize he was being led away and call an alarm instead. The fight with the succubi began, but a casual casting of a fire spell forward resulted in everyone suddenly finding themselves back on the outside of the tunnel. A bit frustrated, they took the time to head back and start again, this time respecting the challenge that not allowing any forward facing magic would actually mean for everyone within the tunnel. I was probably a bit more strict with this than intended, but I wanted it to be meaningful for the party.

On the second attempt, the group took things more seriously and were rewarded. They defeated the succubi and then dispatched the other devil (though in doing so did prove their lust for power in Rhuarc's eyes). They moved up towards the last fight with the basilisk, and were so scared of being sent back that they never even considered risking the light and getting caught by its glare. A largely simple fight later, though very fun for me with a nearly full black VTT for all the players, and the group found themselves inside the constant dim light of Phorros Irrendra.

Initially, Jack decided to take a scouting flight around as an eagle with Winry on his back. Little did he know, but Rhuarc was ready for such things and shot at them with a shatterspell arrow, dispelling the polymorph and causing them to fall. Jack was able to maintain his composure, cast polymorph again, catch Winry, and get out of the area before getting disrupted again, but it served its purpose to make them paranoid of constantly being under threat.

They made their way next to the Grand Manor where they noticed someone was keeping up with things like cleaning and found themselves being attacked by the Droalesti women they were searching for. Even though the Droalesti said it was a good bit of sport and for fun, the group found themselves in a bit of bother as the women used the bridge and flight in combination to strike and run with large hits. Fortunately the poison on their weapons was saved from enough and the group was able to get in control of the fight, taking them both down to critical health before they surrendered. In return, the ladies answered the party's questions about Rhuarc, what happened, and the situation here in the empty city. Coaltongue's body was revealed causing great shock and the Aquiline Heart proving to be more than just legend. The main arcs of the plot really start kicking off at this point in my opinion, so it was a lot of wide eyes and consideration.

Having gotten all they could from them, the party decides to camp out in the manor for the night while the ladies leave Phorros Irrendra for good. I decided to allow them 1 good sleep since they had been good sports to this point, and I was rewarded with a couple of really good scenes as Jack went down to Coaltongue's body. I thought he might have been reviving it himself, but instead he plunged Parallax into it, hoping the the mix of Aquiline Heart blood and the remnant of the Stormchaser Eagle might result in something. In retrospect, I should have planned something for this as it was honestly a great idea, but I was caught off guard. I wish that I would have had this power up Parallax somehow so that each time it drank of the blood, it would have gained more control, more influence. Honestly, I might still do this and just have Parallax become more involved and sentient despite what he said... no one questioned that the sword said it didn't work after all...

Either way, in the morning they set out to hunt Rhuarc... but first do a bit of looting. Like good players of RPGs of old, you always choose the wrong way first, so they headed to the Library hoping for some secrets and goodies. Instead they got a few arrows to the face and a trap. While it didn't do too much damage, it did a good job of setting the stakes. Instead of continuing their searching, they decided to just go straight to the Grove after that, assuming this would draw out Rhuarc the most. They found the hut, sent a couple inside for the Torch, realized it was a fake, and then arrows started raining down again, this time supported by undead. Fortunately for them, they had used the scroll of Heroes' Feast they got in the previous adventure that morning in preparation, so the poison didn't mean much. The pollen was annoying for them though, but eventually they started to gain control again by killing off the undead and Rhuarc's Tragedy.

They were getting quite annoyed with Rhuarc's ability to hit hard and disappear, and just as he was about to pull back and run again, Bryn turned on True Sight. Suddenly he was in a pickle. He still tried to run, throwing a shattershot backwards to try to remove her spell, but failing, before trying to hide. Unfortunately, Bryn rolled incredibly well on her check to try to follow and find him, so she was able to give direction to the group where they trapped Rhuarc. With a half a round of full on attacks before it was his turn again, a couple of critical hits later and Rhuarc was dead on the ground for good. Myetharia landing the final blow with her swords before realizing she probably wanted to talk to him and trying to stabilize him. I reacted that it worked in the moment, though honestly I didn't want to have a long conversation with Rhuarc at this point, so I decided that he was dead enough that his sword ate his soul. While the body was living, there was nothing inside, and slowly it would die on its own without being of any use.

In the end, they buried him respectfully with his sword (as no one wanted to take the risk), but claimed for themselves the Torch of the Burning Sky. Realizing they could take their time now, they inspected the other locations, found all of Rhuarc's potential hiding spots and traps, and then took one more long rest in the Manor. Just for fun, and as a call back to another thread here in the past, Winry had a slice of the necromantic cheese from Castle Korstull and decided to eat it here with Jack. I thought the idea that someone in that thread had for it being the "best cheese you've ever eaten" because it kills you and resurrects you was perfect, so I went with it. Everyone loved it for what it's worth, though there is the tiny problem of someone potentially bonding Shaalguenyaver beforehand and being eaten by the sword that I hadn't considered....

The party took their leave from the empty city thinking their path clear and safe. When they exited, Fayne and some surviving Taranesti met them and asked about their success. The group decided to lie, thinking that the safest path was for no one to know they had the Torch now, but did tell the Taranesti that the city was safe again and they should return. Heading out they started to feel like they were being watched and Bryn's True Sight cast caught bright sensors watching the party. They dispel the first only for another to appear a few minutes later. Realizing they were infamous and in danger, they took to the skies to hasten their return to the Temple of Echoed Souls for pick up by Sheena Larkins only to notice huge groups of Shahalesti homing in on both their position and the Temple. Panicking but not wanting to sacrifice Trilla's soul for the Torch, they sought out other ways of escape only to feel the noose tightening. In the end, Parallax reminds them that they have a way out... unless Jack wants to deal further... but Jack decides they will be caught without activating the Torch.

Bryn takes out the gem with Trilla's soul, taps into it, and transfers the soul into the Torch. Instantly it flares with power, flames wreathing the group, bonding with her (I decided to forgo the Charisma saves for initial bonding as this was a repair job with checks already), and revealing to them the incredible power that it holds. She raises the Torch up, summoning the powerful magic for a teleport, and as the flame spin around them, the world winks out before they appear in front of the statue they helped build in Seaquen for Laurabec...

Thoughts on the adventure -​

Honestly this was one of my favorite adventures so far that I've run. The combination of the temple (which feels so long ago already) and the epic moments at the end cemented it as a winner for our group. There have been so many reveals, so much really sought after information, and great opportunities to customize things for our party that have combined to make this really special. A lot of the other adventures to this point have felt mostly self-contained, the last couple a bit of a goose chase (which I know helps build to this), that getting long-term impactful information and items like this was such a great moment for everyone.

Changes to the module -​

Not a lot. I had already talked about the changes with the Temple and Icengled, so those don't count. The tunnel I ran nearly exactly as written (though perhaps more strict?). Phorros Irrendra went nearly perfectly to script, though Rhuarc just couldn't get away in time from the Grove, otherwise he would have been leading them over to the Forge next for sure. I did skip the Torch bonding, but with how reluctant my group was to activate it already, I didn't want to make things more dangerous or difficult anymore than the dilemna already was for them. I did also take some liberties with Divination magic in this episode. While this wasn't a change to the module per say, it did cause things to run better. I wanted them to feel immediately hunted upon leaving Phorros Irrendra, so when scrying just wasn't enough (which already I gave the enemies some DM knowledge for), I gave the Shahalesti a more powerful version of Locate Object to help hunt them down. I really wanted to put the pressure on them and force the activation of the Torch, and I think this worked really well.

I have also made 1 change in preparation for the next adventure - the Torch lengthens the amount of time that Teleportation Circle portals stay open. We need some help teleporting large groups of people for the assault without fully activating the Torch... so this was my compromise. Hopefully that doesn't become too powerful and bite me back.



Episode 3 - Mercy and Fireballs​

Oh boy, this was quite the learning episode for my party.

The episode started with the group heading on to Gabal's school chasing Larion. The first thing they come across is the wyvern rider holding the family hostage. They deal with this quite well through a combination of aggressive diplomacy and combat, getting the man to believe he was safe before being knocked out and tied up. There was a bit of a moral dilemma about what to do with a prisoner of war, Jack being relatively passivist while Myetharia and Rayland are much more on the practical and unforgiving end of the spectrum. In the end, they left the man tied up in the street for guards to find. This comes up again briefly later on as an aside mention in a later episode what happened.

Then they arrived at the school and had a lesson to learn for sure. They talked with Diogenes but only briefly. They seemed to think him more an obstacle than a place to learn, so once they got past him and into the compound to continue their chase, it seems they mostly ignored him. They also had the bad fortune of pretending to be on Shealis' side which did put his back up a bit. I tried a couple of times to get them to realize he had information but they were determined to get to the root of their problem and after spiting out the most necessary information (she's a well qualified blaster mage) to try to get them to be careful, he left them to it.

It didn't go very well for them. Rayland did steal her component pouch, which did slow her down a bit but didn't get rid of all of her threats at all, but they were overmatched with Larion there as well. His sneak attack nearly downed one, Shealis' Fire Orb damaged everyone as they came in, and in the end she threatened them with a massive fireball. When they continued to press the attack, she dropped it, downing multiple members and very nearly ending the battle right there. The next turn, after Larion was killed which nearly set her into a rage of vengeance, she readied another and gave her ultimatum - let her go now or they all die. Jack gave in and the party lived to see another day but not without a truly chastening experience.

I'll give a little explanation for my party here. We had most recently finished a 4e adventure path (Scales of War) which was okay but needed a lot of help to make it more than a series of dungeon dives. I say this because they were used to a certain pattern of play, get obstacle, overcome obstacle, kill baddies. So when this came up, they resorted to their previous norm even though I had warned them may get them in trouble in this campaign - they say a baddie who had something they wanted, so they took the path to get to them, overcame the obstacles to get there, and fought. This was probably the most dangerous option they could have come up with, but it was a great experience for them to get my point across.

They took this session to heart as we will see going forward. Even the next episode they were much more circumspect and considering with their actions. While this was a nasty session and a tough spot to leave things for the week, I think it was a necessary reminder that we were not playing the same campaign anymore and that things have changed. I'm really proud of my players for not being too salty about it in session 3 nearly getting TPKed by a stacked force. I felt bad about it and gave them some of my thoughts on what happened in post-game. In the long run this was a really great experience for them, but I could see this breaking players and groups apart in a new game.

Next episode, securing the case.
My party is going to Gabal's tonight and I'm worried about a similar situation. Honestly, the whole "duel with Diogenes" seems kinda goofy.


My party is going to Gabal's tonight and I'm worried about a similar situation. Honestly, the whole "duel with Diogenes" seems kinda goofy.
My party blew by Diogenes just like you described and went straight at Shealis. One of them was dropped and now they are negotiating. The tough part is that it's clear Shealis will NEVER give up the documents in the case, even if she were to cooperate with the group.


My party blew by Diogenes just like you described and went straight at Shealis. One of them was dropped and now they are negotiating. The tough part is that it's clear Shealis will NEVER give up the documents in the case, even if she were to cooperate with the group.
I had her play a hard line. If your players need the help, it might be worth dropping hints that they can always work to get the case after regrouping and coming at things from another direction. I wouldn't feel bad dropping that as a hint if the players were completely unwilling to allow the case out of their sight.

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