WotBS pneumatik's War of the Burning Sky

Tolamaker

Adventurer
Despite my nudging they didn't go check out the mercenaries' camp, so they missed the loot, including the Dream Shroud.
My players were very paranoid about being found and were careful to take the long way to the Fire Forest, so they also missed out on the camp.
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.
It's been some time, but I also remember this fight being tough. A solid spellcaster with martials to hold the line can be very effective.
 

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pneumatik

The 8th Evil Sage
Mad King's Banquet

After a little time to recover the PCs were summoned to the Lyceum to meet with Simeon and Kiernan. On the way there they saw Jineer Bremman but I don't think he talked to them until later. Once in Simeon's office with him, Kiernan, Katrina, and were introduced to Balan Bastom. The PCs seemed completely comfortable with the idea that Katrina had made her way into the good graces of Simeon and entered his inner circle. Balan and Simeon make their pitch. The PCs agree, of course. Simeon also gives them an update on the state of the war, which I found both helpful as the DM who has to keep the entire setting in my head and was good a reminding the PCs that they're part of a larger fight in a larger world. I think I also had Simeon (or someone) mention in passing that they were sending other teams of adventurers out on other missions.

The PCs prepare and get underway. They encounter Jineer and agree to deliver his letter to his dad. They take what they all hope is their last trip through the swamp. In Vidor they decide to purchase a sleigh and horses from the same person who ripped them off selling them row boats and head off into the late but very cold winter.

On the way to Bresk the PCs had multiple fights. When they tried to figure out where the Young Remorhaz (not a good rap name) was from, I decided it had come down from the Toreast Steppes because I wasn't sure where else in the area a remorhaz family could be living. I was running this adventure in late 2022, so the Police Brutality encounter hit different than it might have had I run it when the adventure was first published.

They get to Bresk safely and learn a little about the current political situation. They immediately go meet with the proxies of Dasseni nobles who Balan says are friendly with Sequen. Then they meet with King Steppengard. The fact that the king has a Ragesian envoy makes the entire party suspicious. They also can tell that Nina Glibglammer is Bad News.

Edited to add: At this point the party starts to get paranoid. Scarlet drops a divination asking about how to learn the truth ("You must reach Gallo's Fend."). The next day the party checks out the Book of the Land and determine its artifact-ness seems to be working and protecting the nobles of Dassen. Raziel trails some members of the Talon and then Glibglammer but doesn't learn much factual information of much use. He does get a very bad feeling about Glibglammer, like she still has a role of great importance to play. This aspect of Maddness wasn't directly in the adventure, but it was part of how I'm trying to play up the dream-like aspect of the trillith.

The PCs continue talking to proxies after the audience ends so that they can get Dassen on their side before they're kicked out of Bresk. In a rare moment of session prep I had created names and short descriptions of all the proxies. That didn't change how the plot went or anything, I'm just bragging. These proxy discussions go well. The PCs do not go looking for Jinis.

The following evening Pixis fails to kill the party, instead just dying quickly. Then some Dasseni soldiers encourage the PCs to surrender and go to jail. Instead they decide to nope-out and leave the city, heading north to Lord Gallo. They leave their horses and sleigh behind but find new horses waiting for them outside the north gate to Bresk.

As an aside I decided that the eight senior nobles in Dassen were all dukes / duchesses. It seemed confusing that Gallo was Duke Gallo but the other seven were only Lord / Lady, so the rest got major promotions.
 
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Tormyr

Adventurer
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.
I haven't played BG3, but pretty much every video game RPG has me go "Squirrel!" and leave the main questline as soon as possible.
squirrel GIF


Great writeup so far!
 

pneumatik

The 8th Evil Sage
Happy to have horses again, the PCs head North to Gallo’s Fend. They decide to head through the Pitchwood because Raziel has enough Ranger levels to lead the party through difficult forest terrain at regular speed, and in doing so lose the soldiers pursuing them. (I had not read far enough ahead in the mod at this point and didn’t realize the importance of the town in the Pitchwood later on.)

Once through the Pitchwood the PCs meet Commander Hertiage and some of his soldiers, who travel with the PCs up to Gallo. Along the way Hertiage and the soldiers provide some exposition, explaining that the King of Dassen seems to think Gallo is a traitor. They also explain how Gallo’s defenses against invasion from the North are arranged.

The PCs arrive at Gallo. They are impressed with its defensive nature but understand the danger caused by the river being frozen solid enough for an army to march over it. They are taken to meet Duke Michael Gallo. He is happy to meet capable people who don’t believe the King’s lies about him. The PCs are happy to meet someone who is both in charge and not evil or crazy. Gallo explains to the PCs how Coaltongue, for all his terribleness, was at least forthright and relatively honest. Lesia is duplicitous and needlessly cruel, so Gallo assumes any agreement to allow a Ragesian army through Dassen will be used to keep a Ragesian army in Dassen.

The PCs spend the night in Gallo gathering information and resting. The learn Glibglammer wasn’t always so crazy, and note to themselves that perhaps she is a similar creature to Deception or Indomitability.

The next day Gallo explains his situation. He asks the PCs to go north into the Alydi Gap and find evidence that the Ragesian are not abiding by the current agreement to stay out of Dassen and not plan to attack it. The PCs do as he asks. The ride quickly (on free horses provided by Gallo), hurrying to the point that Raziel’s bear companion Kiera falls behind.

They check in with each tower in the Gap until they get to the last one. They attempt to sneak up on it but are spotted by a soldier on its roof who is dressed in Gallo’s livery but clearly is not one of the Duke’s soldiers. The party rushes up the mountainside in hopes of silencing the soldier before he can raise the alarm. Dorjic sprints up the slope, leaps / climbs up the wall of the outpost, and grapples the soldier (with a bonus action), dragging him around while he face-tanks attacks from the other soldiers on the roof.

Tarak uses his monk speed to also get on the roof of the outpost. He runs up to the wyvern and stunning-fists it. More soldiers and the wyvern rider emerge out the doorway up to the roof but are caught in Romero’s Hypnotic Pattern.

The next round even more soldiers emerge, along the with an inquisitor to fight and their bodyguard (always two there are). The bodyguard rouses the wyvern rider, who uses his turn to mount the wyvern. The inquisitor starts shooting fire at the PCs before being grappled by Drojic, who then shrugs off her Command spell.

Eventually the Ragesians begin to gain the advantage, though, aided by some critical missed by the PCs. The rider gets the wyvern into the fight. It attacks Tarak with its tail, who takes a ton of damage. Romero had cast mirror image, but they all get taken down by soldier attacks. Romero ends up losing concentration and having to cast Invisibility so that he doesn’t die. The inquisitor’s second Command gets Drojic to Flee, which he does, all the way off the outpost roof. The wyvern attacks Raziel, dropping him with one hit. Raziel crit successes a death save and gets back up, only to be immediately dropped by a crit success attack.

The PCs manage to hold on long enough to drop enough of the enemies to get back into control of the fight. The wyvern rider is dropped, but the wyvern continues to follow his last order: to flee back to the Ragesian camp to the north. Drojic runs after it as it flies away, leaping off the roof to reach and grapple it. Once in the grapple it crashes to the ground. No longer at risk of the Ragesian army discovering that their jig is up, the party is victorious.
 

pneumatik

The 8th Evil Sage
I recall the fight with the Ragesians at the outpost being especially challenging, especially once they have to go inside and deal with the soldiers who didn't go onto the roof. I think they got a lot of help from the fact that we were short more players than normal for the session where the outpost fight happened. The PCs that weren't there couldn't have gotten hurt in the fight, so they showed up after the roof fighting was over, in full health and with all their spells, to help clear out the outpost. Which they did.

The PCs search through the possessions of the Ragesians who took over the outpost and find the papers with orders for their commander that make it clear the Ragesian army across the border are going to invade regardless of any agreement reached between Ragesia and Dassen. Drojic also grabs the bracers of grappling off the dead wyvern in case he needs to grapple something even bigger someday. They all head back to Gallo's Fend, catching back up with Raziel's companion fey-bear Kiera.

Lord Gallo sends them out to convince Dashgoban and Timor to come to his aid. They head through the Pitchwood to Dashgoban. I do some quick tap-dancing as the description of the Pitchwood doesn't match the one I invented when the PCs passed through it heading to Gallo's Fend from Bresk. The PCs convince the pitchlings to fight Steppengard. They easily convince Dashgoban to come to Gallo's aid. In Pitchwood Burg they convince the villagers to dump all their pitch on the river to melt it by promising that they or Duke Gallo will pay them back the 1,000gp they lose from doing so.

The party gets into the fight with the snowball-throwing giant apes on their way up the Glasskeel Cliffs. The map in the version of the adventure on Roll20 had to show the PCs both climbing the cliff and moving around on ledges on the cliffs, and so it used perspective much like in old 2D video games, where whether you're going up or away from the screen, or down vs towards the screen, depends on whether the background layer is a ladder or a flat surface. But that fight was fun.

Once up the cliffs the PCs get Timor's support for Gallo, and they head back to Gallo's fend. The night before the battle starts the party is able to go capture the Warmage Kelkin and I think rescue his sphinx. It's a tough fight so Gallo asks them to take a long rest before he puts them to use again. That use is taking out Konigsmarshal Malkan and defeating Madness, though it escapes.

Having earned pretty much all possible points in favor of Gallo's victory, the battle ends quickly and decisively. King Steppengard announces he has a change of heart and that all of Dassen should come together to fight the Ragesians when they invade. The party goes down to Bresk in Gallo's retinue, expecting the worst.
 

pneumatik

The 8th Evil Sage
The PCs arrive in Bresk and are feted as heroes. King Steppengard knights them despite having been on the opposing side in last week's civil war. At the festival most of the party enter the jousting tournament. Raziel riding Kiera and Tarak enter the lower tier of it. Raziel doesn't make it too far but the crowd enjoys seeing a bear mount. Tarak is dexterous to win his tilts. Eren and Drojic enter the main tier. Eren loses to an NPC who only rolls crits. Drojic wins until we cut to other PCs.

Scarlett is participates in some informal spell duels. She does quite well, in part because the NPC arcanists aren't powerful enough and I was too lazy to make up more powerful versions (managing high-level arcane NPCs is what I hate most about DMing my own campaigns).

Gallo asks Eren (now eliminated from the joust) and Romero, who has not entered any competitions, to go find his proxy and check on him. They are told that he's still locked up and Steppengard won't free him, but don't worry, he's perfectly fine.

Romero also encounter's the royal chef, who's selling especially fancy food. He loudly complains about being kicked out of his own kitchen for the banquet. When Romero has rounded up some other PCs and brought them to the chef, he's gone. They're told by guards to not worry, he's completely fine, but just not here selling his food.

Drojic eventually wins the main jousting tournament. He's excited about having a magic item that makes his horse smart, but he questions if he will own the same horse long enough for the long term benefits to kick in. The party asks that the barding be made for Keira instead of a horse, which the tournament organizers are happy to accomodate.

Raziel wildshapes into a cat and sneaks into the kitchen. He finds enough to be suspicious but I don't think he figures out the poisoning plot yet. Between that and the info from Burnomn Valder the PCs are quite suspicious. They report to Gallo, who encourages them to see what's going on with getting drinks shipped in via the sewer. They do, and find zombies. So many zombies. They didn't get into the prison in act I, so this is all new for them.

They find their way to the room full of zombies frozen in place and clear it out. Scarlett is the first to climb up into the prison area proper. Her summoned elemental holds off the immediate undead threat until the rest of the party is in the room. They even manage to cram Kiera up through a 5x5 ft opening (leaving the bear trapped in a frozen sewer seemed too mean).

The find where the Ragesian ambassador and inquisitor are holed up with some loyal soldiers. Despite the PCs tipping off the Ragesians with the noise of their fighting when they entered the prison the fight goes very poorly for the Ragesians. Unlike Scarlett, the inquisitor conjures his fire elemental instead of summoning them. As a result when he loses concentration in the first round of combat the elemental attacks him and his allies more than the party.

Evidence of Ragesian perfidy in hand the PCs go check out the Book of the Land. They determine it's an illusion. With some significant effort they locate the rope trick it's hiding in and, after some over-cautious exploration get to the book and bring it into the prime material plane. This should keep the Dasseni nobles from being driven crazy by mind-effect poison.

The PCs then race upstairs. They present enough evidence for Steppengard to flip out and try to kill everybody in the room, with Madness helping out. Things start poorly for the PCs. Madness's confusion effects get a lot of the party. Guards run in and focus their attacks on Keira and Eren who are by entrance to the banquet hall. Scarlett manages to send her elemental after Madness, who is staying corporeal so that she can physically attack the PCs. But the PCs gradually shake off the confusion. Romero shakes it off in time to dump enough healing into Eren to keep him him up and then starts singing the Song of Forms. This makes Madness furious. It charges Romero but provokes an attack from Gallo, who kills it. The party subdues Steppengard.

With Madness dead Steppengard comes to his senses when he wakes up. The PCs explain to everyone what's going on. They back up their claims with documentary evidence and I think some testimony from one of the Ragesian soldiers. The Desseni lords decide Steppengard should stay their king (they're more forgiving than I am). The PCs are raised to nobility and granted lands in Megadon's territory. Everything else is resolved satisfactorily. The PCs head off to Seaquen, already dreading having to sell their horses in Vidor again.
 


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