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WotBS pneumatik's War of the Burning Sky


The 8th Evil Sage
I'm running WotBS in 5E over Roll20. So far we've just started act three of Tears of the Burning Sky. I've been meaning to post what the players have done and my impression of each adventure and just haven't gotten around to it until now. We play four hour sessions, and it takes us a number of sessions to get through each adventure.

If my players are reading this, the spoilers are for you. Don't read them.

A short summary of the PCs:
Drojic: Male Human Blitzer (from WotBS Players Guide) Barbarian. Constantly pushing over and grappling enemies. Gate Pass soldier who's happy to follow orders.
Eren Greystone: Male Human Commander (WotBS PG) Fighter. Gate Pass officer who gives party members extra actions and tells Drojic who to grapple to death.
Romero Canción: Male Human College of Swords Bard. Womanizer and heavy drinker who means well. Left Gate Pass years ago and came back when Ragesia started threatening it again.
Tarak: Male Wood Elf Kensai Monk. Grew up in Innenotdar and was driven out when it burst into fire. Level-headed and fair.
Taraziel (goes by Raziel): Male Wood Elf Nature's Guardian Ranger -> Circle of Stars Druid with the Hermit background. Grew up in Innenotdar and was driven out when it burst into fire. Unlike Tarak is still angry about it. Gave up on being a Hermit when he had a vision that the world is entering a new dream time. Started with a fey spirit bear from Ranger named Taralkiera (goes by Kiera).
Verity: Female Half-elf Order of Scribes Wizard. Student at Gabal's School. Fascinated by magic, learning more about it, and crafting magic items.
When the PCs get to Seaquen Verity's player will decide to retire Verity and play another character, who is:
Scarlet: Female Goblin Bladesinger Wizard. Spent time at the Lyceum and doesn't like Ragesia probably more than she like the Resistance.

PCs started a 3rd level with 100gp of extra money.

I'm using the Greyhawk deities list because I'm most familiar with it, but otherwise I'm trying to run the adventures as written (until Monastery of Two Winds, anyway).

I've allowed the affiliation abilities in the WotBS Player's Guide. Most of the PCs have Blade of the Resistance. So far we've found the additional abilities and class options in the WotBS player's guide to be more powerful than the campaign needs. Commander Fighter's ability to give PCs additional actions is very powerful, and Blade of Resistance just makes PCs more powerful after the first round of combat.

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The 8th Evil Sage
The PCs met Torrent in the Poison Apple Pub on New Years Eve. They agreed to Torrent's proposed mission to retrieve the case and then the fight with the Black Horse mercenaries started with the building catching on fire. The fight spilled outside and Kathor got involved. The PCs demonstrated a certain bloodthirstiness by chasing down and killing fleeting NPCs, including Kathor. The visual effect at his death led Raziel to realize he was really living in a dream time.
Since Kathor's Trillith had plot relevance later on, I decided that Justice jumped into Torrent and Verity, since they were the only PCs who were opposed to killing all the NPCs in this fight.
On their way to the depository tower, the PCs ran into the a family that had just barely escaped from their house being dragon-bombed. They offered help, including healing, and then decided that the family was in good enough shape that the party didn't need to slow down to get them to safety themselves. They then climbed a (different) burning building to rescue someone trapped in it, and finally ignored a merchant who was asking for help finding his pet giant weasel.

The depository tower encounter was a mixed bag. There was some good RP as the players figured out that Badgerface wasn't Badgerface, and good discussion about the lantern archon fighting against the party. The two elves from Innenotdar used the encounter to justify their dislike of the Shahalesti. The downside was the fight itself, which was rough to play through because I used the dynamic lighting in Roll20. I thought the players would enjoy chasing after Prevarieth through the shadows created by the lantern archon. Instead it was just very annoying. The PCs had to leave Raziel's bear Kiera outside the depository, and she was quite the surprise for Prevarieth when he jumped out a window in an attempt to escape.

I think the PCs now went to the safehouse. They encountered Flaganus in the house holding the boy hostage and happily killed him. Then they kept things from getting out of hand at the safehouse overnight. Romero got to shine as a better bard than Mulysa, and multiple PCs were able to pitch-in and help out Buron.

Then Gabal's, which was another rough fight. Despite Diogenese's warning them it would be dangerous, they went right to Shealis' room to confront her, and then she fireballed the whole party. If Diogenes hadn't been close enough to come running to counterspell her next fireball it would have gone very poorly for the campaign. The players thought it was too much for their level, but I stand by hitting the PCs with it - especially because they all lived through it. I believe this fight also ended with the enemy's attempted escape being ruing by a surprise bear hanging out outside.

At the Elven ghetto they pretty willingly made a deal with the imp to give away the case in exchange for his help getting into the ghetto. Then I think they were able to talk-with-animals past the badgers - it was an elf talking-with-animals with them anyway, and all the party wanted was to go upstairs. They may have also talked their way past the elves upstairs. Whatever happened, they got the case. I remember they opened it without too much difficulty and then gave it to the imp, who happily left. Edit: Nope, I misremembered this bit. They found their way in without the imp's help, just killed the badgers, and then killed the elves guarding the case upstairs. Once outside the imp politely asked the for the case, threatening to harass and annoy them from invisibility if they don't. So they do.

They then went to Erdan's house. The players were more than happy to take some of his outrageously colored equipment and learn how the siege had been progressing. The next day on their way out of Gate House they got jumped by Black Horse mercenaries that they made short work of. I had Rantle show up because he matters later in the campaign, but they really didn't need his help. Edit: Nope, got his wrong, too. I skipped this fight because it was taking so long to get out of Gate Pass. Rantle just showed up and handed them the message to give to his sister.

Then they were out of the city with new horses. The Gauntlet encounter was pretty easy for them, too. They saw the ambushers by scouting ahead. That was enough for the PCs to fight the first group of mercenaries instead of running past them, and the rest of the mercenaries were too spread out to pose much of a threat. Edit: The mercenaries surrendered, and the PCs took all their possessions and left them tied up.
Despite my nudging they didn't go check out the mercenaries' camp, so they missed the loot, including the Dream Shroud.

They made their way down the mountains to Crystin and Haddin. They figured out Haddin was not a good dude and was controlling Crystin. They got in a fight with him and ended up tying him up. Then the Ragesians showed up the PCs defeated their first Inquisitor. Romero kept the Inquisitor's mask and wrist razor. The party then left for Innenotdar with Crystin and Haddin still tied up and unconscious. The party had decided that Haddin would eventually free himself and come after them, so before they left for the Fire Forest completely Tarak went back and killed him.

I enjoyed this adventure. It started off with a bang! and didn't give the PCs much of a break. For the level of the PCs the fights were interesting. There were opportunities for role play and the PCs were able to be part of the Resistance in a real way while still feel appropriate for a level 3-4 party. The party, except for Verity (and Torrent), had demonstrated a willingness to kill threats, even after they had been mostly dealt with. I was a little worried it would lead to problems later on, but the rest of the PCs end up mellowing out a little bit in Innenotdar and then in Seaquen.
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The 8th Evil Sage
The "heroes" left Crystin tied up by herself, or am I misreading you? That's not bloodthirsty, that's outright amoral!
They left Hardin tied up. They broke his control over Crystin. Once freed Crystin wanted to leave with th3 party. Hardin didn’t want her to go and tried to mentally control one of the party members. So they beat him up and tied him to a chair before leaving. As they left they were worried Hardin would free himself and come after them, so Tarak went back and killed him.


They left Hardin tied up. They broke his control over Crystin. Once freed Crystin wanted to leave with th3 party. Hardin didn’t want her to go and tried to mentally control one of the party members. So they beat him up and tied him to a chair before leaving. As they left they were worried Hardin would free himself and come after them, so Tarak went back and killed him.
Well all of this sounds very familiar to me and my game... I'm glad to hear my party is not the only ones to sacrifice Haddin to the Scourge!


The 8th Evil Sage
I forgot to mention that I was really happy with how well the PCs were able to feel involved and be motivated in Scouring of Gate Pass. I don't know if it was on purpose, but giving game mechanical benefits to being affiliated with the Resistance led to almost every player making a PC that was affiliated with the Resistance, and who was ready to go along with whatever Torrent pitched them.

Bill T.

They left Hardin tied up. They broke his control over Crystin. Once freed Crystin wanted to leave with th3 party. Hardin didn’t want her to go and tried to mentally control one of the party members. So they beat him up and tied him to a chair before leaving. As they left they were worried Hardin would free himself and come after them, so Tarak went back and killed him.
Funny, maybe this is a difference between the 3.5 and 5e versions, but both times I ran that adventure the heroes left the inquisitor to Haddin's tender mercies. They weren't at all worried about Haddin following them, they were worried about Boreus following! Well, that and they were simply too squeamish to kill Boreus after he surrendered.


The 8th Evil Sage
The Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar

I will admit up front that I don't remember the details of what happened during the Indomitable Fire Forest of Innenotdar probably the worst of all the adventure's we've run so far. Though after looking at the edits I just had to make to my post about our Scouring of Gate Pass play through, maybe I don't remember any of them very well.

I do remember the party doing some math on how many potions of stand the heat they had and how many people and animal companions they needed to take with them. Eventually confident they had enough potions to get through the forest as long as they didn't run into any major delays or other problems, they went into the forest. With them were Torrent and Crystin. They had to leave their horses behind, both because the horses really didn't want to enter the forest and because they didn't have enough stand the heat potions. This was the first of what would be many instances of losing horses or other means of overland travel.

Shortly after entering the forest they encountered Durval. They were able to convince him to not immediately kill himself, and being a good group of PCs they accepted him as another addition to the party. Shortly thereafter he ran off into the forest to die.

Raziel, and to a lesser degree Tarak, had trouble going back into Innenotdar. Raziel was already burned by it once and had a severe fear of fire. Watching Durval survive the fire and then run back into it was tough for them.

The party fought some fire keese bats, then a swarm of fire bats (a fire swarm of bats?) while crossing a narrow bridge. They did not accept Kazyck's initial offer from the hellhound, and so he attacked them. I believe he was getting beaten badly enough that he offered surrender and then went right into Kazyck's Offer. I changed the offer to requiring the contents of the case, since the PCs already gave the the case away to get a devil out of their deal with the Ragesians. Kazyck pointed out that nothing in his mission said that the PCs couldn't copy the contents first and so they (specifically their scribe-wizard) did.

Then the PCs fought some fire elementals and had a nice talk with Indomitability. Getting its boon sounded better than getting burning alive, so they agreed to its plan.

The tower in the middle of the bridge over the river ended up being a good place for the PCs to take a break from their hurried travel through the forest. After finding their way into the tower the party spent the rest of their daylight hours exploring the village. They found all the loot in the village, with Romero being quite excited about the horn and lyre.

They fought the ghasts and then went into the secret cavern underneath the shrine. They convinced the Deva that they had the same goal as it, so it let them in. Between what the Deva can tell them and their careful examination (and maybe a speak with dead?), I think they figured out that the dead person was Bhurisrava. The two Taranesti elves in the party found the Shahelesti elf here very suspicious. They either cast detect magic with a good check or healed him and convinced the Deva to un-suspend his process him. However they did it, they ended up talking to him and learning that the Shahalesti were probably behind the fire forest being on fire forever. (I will admit that I was probably more forthcoming with background info here than the mod really intended, but I wanted the party to learn something from finding the hidden shrine.) With the Deva on their side, when they left he let them take the mace +1 with them.

The players rested in the tower, fighting the dream elementals (what a cool idea). They found the dream seeds. Raziel tried one, recognizing that they have some relationship to the current dreamtime, but doesn't notice any meaningful effect. Only elf PCs tried the seeds, so they did not discover anything else about them.

At this point the PCs have a decent idea of what happened with the forest. They are starting to have a belief that the Ragesians might not have set the forest on fire. They're pretty certain that Indomitability is why the forest is burning forever. And they know a little about Anyariel, though I forget what their Int (History) check result was to remember anything about her.

I think the PCs were thinking of going up the river but decided not to, since they found Bhurisrava in the hidden room under the shrine to Anyariel. I know they never collected the feather tokens from Nelle, or at least never added them to the list of party loot, and the roll20 log doesn't have any combat rolls from salamanders or magmin.

When they went to rest in the tower on the bridge again they had Trouble with Tiljann. I forget exactly how the fight went, but the PCs defeated the Seela Rebels and meet Tiljann.

Back at the Seela village they learn about singing the song to keep Indomitability trapped as a stag. They spend time talking to people and learn more about Anyariel, Timbre, and Gwenvere. They get pretty suspicious of Vuhl but can't help but understand his logic. Romero asks about learning the Song of Forms and is disappointed to learn he has to know sylvan first, which he can't speak. Importantly he learns about how all of the forest, more or less, comes from Timbre's glade. Tiljann then explains that Timbre's glade is inaccessible because Timbre is sad about losing Anyariel.

Some more questioning gets the PCs to decide to go talk to Gwenvere. They speak with Gwenvere (maybe with some light violence first, I can't remember) and eventually convince her to give them the lock of Anyariel's hair that she stole from the shrine. They present that hair to Timbre, who explains that the tree in her grove was blessed by Ehlona (or maybe Beory, I forget), that she gave Anyariel a stick-turned-blade made of still-living wood from the tree, and that the blade is stuck in Indomitability in the bottom of the lake.

The PCs go back to the lake, fight some merrow, and Tarak pulls the sword out of Indomitability and bonds with it. The party then convinces the trillith to Just Leave, and the seela to Stop Singing, and they all do.

Tiljann joins the PCs, Torrent, and Crystin and they all leave the forest and head into Dassen together. Romero tries to figure out if it's appropriate to hit on Tiljann or not - she's actually really old but acts a lot like a kid - and decides against it. He still gets her to start teaching him sylvan (completely platonically) so that he can learn the Song of Forms.

Side note: For those tracking PC-NPC romances at home, Romero did not live up Torrent's standards early on. Torrent was Good Person who was all about Business, while Romero was a ... person who was all about business wink wink. The whole party has been protective of Crystin once they freed her from Haddin's control.

Now that the adventure is over, most every PC has gotten a special thing out of it, between bonding with the sword, Indomitability's boon, understanding the dreamtime they're in, or starting to learn the Song of Forms. Every PC either has being in the resistance or being from Innenotdar as a big part of their backstory, so one of the first two adventures has been about them.

I enjoyed this adventure more than I thought I would. Neither I nor the players seemed to get tired of fighting fire monsters, which I was worried about. The backstory was more accessible than I thought it would be. I also leaned into giving away a little more information in a way that gave the PCs more certainty about the history than I think was intended, but with two PCs being from Innenotdar I thought it was worth it to get their engagement. I liked that by the end of the adventure the party considered the Shahalesti to definitely be enemies, even though they have the greatest military force out of all the countries opposing Ragesia, who the party also hates.

I thought that having an adventure that spent a lot of time introducing the trillith was a good idea, and in hindsight I think that's still true.


The 8th Evil Sage
The PCs, plus Torrent, and Crystin, and Tiljann, leave the (ashen remains) of Innenotdar and enter Dassen, heading towards the semi-independent city of Seaquen far to the south. They spend their first night in the town of Cornerwood, happy to spend the night in a bed and eat food prepared in a kitchen. The trade their abundance of looted gear for 8 riding horses and saddles.

They spend a few weeks crossing the Dassen forests and countryside and learn that the country is divided up into duchies controlled by various lords / dukes and duchesses, none of whom seem hold the same attitude towards Ragesia. The PCs wonder how exactly Dassen governs itself (oooohhh, foreshadowing).

Unnatural rain follows the party when they get to southern Dassen, drenching them for days until they reach Vidor. They camp outside town. Since all the players have seen The Neverending Story, the next day they trade their 8 riding horses with saddles for three rowboats to travel through the swamp in.

They collect rumors about the swamp. They learn about cannibal witches who live there and a red-haired sorceress who recently hired two bodyguards to escort her when she went through the swamp.

They lug their new rowboats through the rain for fifteen miles to the swamp, wishing they had horses the whole way, then get in and start paddling. That night they get attacked by three cannibal witches who live in the swamp. They kill one witch (and one crocodile) and capture the other two.

The two captured witches say they have a live captive back at their home and offer to lead the PCs to her in exchange for letting them go. Instead the PCs spend a few hours looking for the witches' home. Once found they go there with the captured witches, kill some skeletons, and find Katrina. At her request they let Katrina execute the two witches for their crimes of killing Katrina's bodyguards, and from the physical evidence probably killing a lot of other people, too. They take some blood tears and destroy others (I think). They also give Katrina the letter to her from Rantle. The PCs have not examined it or even tried to read it, I think, and so have no idea what message Rantle was trying to send. They were also completely fine with Katrina killing the two captured witches.

They get through the swamp, explain to some Shahalesti guards that they're not Ragesian agents, sell their three rowboats (that they've been lugging overland since leaving the swamp) for coppers on the gold and walk into Seaquen.

Seaquen, it turns out, is a kind of a mess. It's been raining since forever. While the refugees have enough food to eat, there's not enough of anything to go around.

One their way to Lyceum the PCs are approached by a guard who has been charmed to look for them by a blonde woman named Jess. They continue on their way to Lyceum. Tiljann sees the Wayfarer ship in the harbor and announces a plan to go to tryouts tomorrow.

At Lyceum Katrina helps them get in to see Keirnan Stekart, who calls in headmaster Simeon to hear what the party has to say. He takes the heavily encrypted documents the PCs have and uses some divinations to learn certain things about them. The party drops off one of the Tidereaver's Tears they looted from the swamp witches.

The PCs get advice from Simeon and leave to visit a magical tattoo shop. They start to debate what tattoos to get. Torrent takes them to Siddoneth, where they learn that he's working with a lot of Ragesians, and a biomancer. Talky talky talky, and the PCs become suspicious of how dismissive Sidoneth is of the weird weather.

Now the PCs get into the part of the adventure I was least sure of: helping out with level-appropriate odd jobs in and around Seaquen. I think the players enjoyed it more than I was worried they would, and having some quieter time staying at one place for a while was enjoyable, but it still feels like too much of a lull in a campaign that had been going pretty hard for the first two adventures.

The PCs talk to Laurabec and buy into her idea of a multi-faith community center. They learn about the various factions and go to sleep in their tents at the end of a long day. That night they hear the commotion of the Lyceum dealing with Jezska the Erinyes, neatly resolving the issue of the guard who was charmed by a blond woman named Jess to watch out for the party.

The next morning Torrent and Crystin say goodbye to the party and go off to do their own thing. Torrent makes clear how much she appreciates what the party did for the Resistance. The party goes to Lyceum and gets permission to question Jezska. They make a deal with her: the Lyceum will only banish her, and she'll share info. The PCs learn she was summoned by some Inquisitor named Guthwulf, that there are other Ragesian spies in the area, and that teleporting into Seaquen doesn't work because of some magical gadget or ward. Since they're in the Lyceum they chat with Keirnan about the strange weather. He gives them a list of higher priority problems they can help Lyceum with.

The party ignores all those problems and goes to see their friend Tiljann audition for the circus. She gets a part in the play, as do Tarak and Romero. They go to the tattoo shop and start getting inked.

Some PCs talk to one of the eight factions Laurabec is trying to wrangle while others (Romero and Tarak) go spy on Sidoneth. Tarak overhears him talking with Brutus and Setales. He learns they were in league with the witches in the swamp, and that the PC's killing of them messed up their plans.

The PCs all go to the war council at the Lyceum. They learn information about the Tidereavers Tears, which NPC Verity had been researching. Lots of NPCs talk. Katrina promotes the PCs. Shalosa shows up and explains her dad's terms for alliance. Verity stays at Lyceum to continue researching.

After the war council the PCs are asked to do the Talk to the Swamp Goblins mission by Kiernan, because it's a good way to loop in Scarlet, the new PC for Verity's player. They find the goblins, find the reticent goblin chief, and broker an arrangement between the chief, his wife, and Keirnan that makes everyone happy.

The PCs talk to two more refugee groups. They agree to build the community center on a hill and near water. They meet with another refugee group, this one led by a druid. They talk about nature and convince this group to join the community center as well. Then they talk to the philosophical group of refugees and convince them that the party is Nice and Helpful, so they join the community center as well.

I must not have taken good notes because now Laurabec explains that 6 of 8 groups have agreed to join. The last two agree to join in as well so that they don't miss out.

Somewhere in there the PCs finish getting some magical tattoos (Bracers of Archery for Raziel and an Ioun Stone of Strength for Drojic, and yes the tattooed ioun stone circles his head). They also do the Swamp Dragon mission, successfully, by correctly identifying Lowduke as a victim of nominative determinism.

And then we get to The Ember Island Players episode (S3E17) the The Spectacular Trial of Toteth Topec performance. The PCs attend along with Katrina, who dismissively explains the heavy-handed symbolism. The PCs see Gorgio sneaking out literally with blood on his hands and follow to investigate. As expected, this leads them directly into a fight. They fight the two half-orc Ragesians on the mantle in Siddoneth's house, plus an invisible assassin. Gorgio dimension doors away, some enemies are captured while others are killed.

Back ashore the city guards have found and captured Gorgio. Simeon casts a spell to direct the PCs to whatever is causing the intensifying storm and hands the PCs some additional Tidereaver's Tears (made humanely). From here on adventure was relatively straightforward; nothing is as inevitable as PCs given a path to the main badguy.

The PCs get to the ruined prison, kill three Young Chuul, many jokes are made about how Young Chuul sounds like a rap name, Torrent turns a lot of skeletons (appropriately so, given that everyone's in waiste-deep water), they kill some sahaugin, and freedive down into a cave that's near the elemental plane of fire.

The PCs kill some Ragesians, kill an inquisitor (very satisfying), and free the prisoners. This last fight was actually rough. The inquisitor's fire spells in the fire-empowered environment makes for a very deadly opening fireball.

Romero grabs this inquisitor's mask and handclaw. The PCs examine the teleport homing beacon and make plans to carry back up to the Lyceum (why not?). On the way out they get jumped by Siddoneth. They're still a little confused as to why he would try to kill them, other than him being generally in league with the Ragesians. The fight's tricky and annoying, but Siddoneth can't do enough damage to the PCs while they stay in the room. Eventually he exposes himself to ranged attacks and magic, and is done it. I think Drojec or Tarak might have wrestled an octopus, which sounds like a fun experience.

And that's the adventure. Torrent is confused over why Siddoneth sided with the Ragesians and needs to do some thinking about who she can really trust. The PCs completely trust Katrina. I worry I didn't play her as power-hungry enough, but if I made her any more aggressive her questionable qualities would have been too obvious. We're almost done with Tears of the Burning Sky. Hopefully the PCs general trust of Katrina will make her betrayal all the more shocking when it happens in the next adventure.

There was a lot to like about this adventure. It introduced the actual Resistance against Ragesia, including NPCs who stick around for multiple following adventures. The threat motivation wasn't as clear to the players as in the two previous adventures, but the enemy's allowed to be inscrutable sometimes.

I have trouble running downtime sandboxes like the middle of this adventure was. I worry in particular about player motivation and pacing, but at least in this one it seemed to go well for the players. It also made the adventure longer than the previous two, which was hard for me because I'm always anxious to move the plot along.

I've been neck-deep in Baldur's Gate 3 this past month, and the temptation of 'dealing with all the sidequests while losing focus on the main plot' is real.

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