WotBS pneumatik's War of the Burning Sky


The 8th Evil Sage
So in the aftermath of the adventure, how did the players like it?

Have you taken a look at my suggestions to try to make adventure 5 a bit more interesting? https://www.enworld.org/threads/mission-to-improve-mission-to-the-monastery-of-two-winds.692365/
I think the players enjoyed this one. They stretched their legs and demonstrated their ability to influence the world in a real way to the de facto leaders of the resistance at the Lyceum. It managed to remain geographically close to where the previous adventure took place, and I think the players enjoyed the call-backs to places they walked through on their way out of Innenotdar. This was probably the adventure that really established the standard of fighting an Inquisitor at the end of every adventure, and that rhythm makes the adventure path more fun.

I'm posting these game summaries waaaay beyond schedule. In a few minutes I'm going to start running the session when the PCs catch Rhuarc in Phorros Irrendra. I did see your suggestions for the Monastery adventure. I ended up not changing the adventure as much as you suggest, but I did change it. The biggest change was probably making Pilus less of a villain. Instead Caela was working with the Ragesians to grow her power and eventually replace her master as the head of the order. I was worried that if Pilus was closer to a villain in this adventure then my players wouldn't trust him when he shows up later with his Death Star Vorlon Planet Killer Kaiju Battlestar Ancalagon Space Battleship Yamato living ship. Otherwise things mostly ended up progressing as written, I think.
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The 8th Evil Sage
The Monastery of Two Winds

I decided at the end of Mad King's Banquet that the PCs didn't quite have enough magical loot, so I gave out a couple fun utility items like a robe of many items. This probably ended up being a mistake because they got more magic loot relatively soon, but shrug.

Anyway, the PCs return to Seaquen as landed nobles of Dassen and are called back to the Lyceum. They update resistance leadership on the situation in Dassen and what happened there. Simeon tells them that they were the only successful group of the three they sent out, though I don't think the players realized how poorly things went and Simeon didn't want to emphasize the current failures. They meet Three Weeping Ravens (TWR) and learn about the Monastery of Two Winds. I fail to remember which wind is passive and which is violent, and continue to not remember forever.

Sheena Larkins teleports the party to Yen Ching. I invent some background about Ostalin that hopefully won't contradict a later adventure. I lean into the East Asian aspects of their culture, in part because I don't know enough about central Asia. They are caught in the teleport trap but talk their way out of it. They are taken to Khagan Onamdammin. He has a huge inferiority complex about his dad and grandfather. I steal from ancient Roman history and make him a pretty worthless and petty person who nonetheless is the Khagan (the sons of Roman emperors were pretty consistently terrible people in general and emperors in particular). The PCs watch him petrify and destroy a fey "companion" of his who "healed" him of his biomantically altered face, though they don't understand exactly what's going on.

Onamdammin invites the PCs to stay up very very late partying with him. Some do. The next day the PCs wake up earlier than the Khagan. They go collect the the broken pieces of the fey companion and explore Yen Ching, looking for plot hooks but finding nothing. I describe it as vaguely Nepalese based on random video clips I've seen. The PCs convince Onamdammin that they should go to the Monastery of Two Winds to deal with the Ragesians. Onamdammin is of course not worried about his ability to deal with the Ragesians but he likes Pilus so is happy to send the PCs off to visit him.

The PCs do the Menchi the Headless fight. I spend more time reading about Menchi's backstory than the party spends worrying about him, but the fight up the hill is interesting from a game mechanical perspective. The spellcasting PCs get Menchi's spellbook and have serious discussions about the 5e action economy, concentration, and spells.

The PCs reach Eresh and recognize that something very weird is going on. I have less of a Ragesian presence in the village than I think the adventure intends, largely for simplicity. The PCs walk through the Ragesians very cautiously but nothing happens beyond someone telling them to stop, to which they answer, "No," and keep walking. They explore the village and chat up people in Peak's Shadow as best they can.

I think their next stop is the monastery. Along the way there they have the scripted spooky first interaction with Balance. They think it's weird but they keep going. At the monastery they get Caela to talk to them. She give them the official line of being worried about whatever is making the villagers so weird and doesn't let them in. I think they learn that they're talking to Caela, a name they recognize from talking to people in Eresh. They go back to the village. Once they're back in the village Bechus flags them down and takes them to meet Eril where he's hiding.

They did some other exploration of the village while they were doing the plot. They learned more about the situation, including the timeline of events, but didn't get any good ideas of what to do next. So they were asked to the House of Healing to talk to Balance.


The 8th Evil Sage
To catch up on what the PCs know at this point: I've let drop enough hints about the trillith that the players are aware of them, though they might not be confident on their name being trillith. They've also done enough plot while exploring the village to know that people have been disappearing. Raziel did some exploring of the monastery while wildshaped into a bird. He got a good view of the weird birds that Pilus made to tend to his bio-warship and saw that things were generally progressing as normal in the monastery itself. I decided that Caela has been keeping both Pilus and Longinus isolated from much of what's going on in the village. Since Pilus was done with his smaller-scale biomancy experiments he does go to either the village or his secret hideout in the Valley of Storms, so the two masters keep running their monastery as they always have - Longinus doesn't want to engage with the outside world and Pilus is actively hiding from it.

Anyway, the PCs get called to the House of Healing to see if they can help Balance. The party is absolutely opposed to allowing Balance to die, despite its desire to just get a break. Eventually they convince it to go and "possess" Drojic, which it does. It gives him Balance's boon but otherwise doesn't do much to help the party for the rest of the adventure. Since Drojic is a barbarian I make clear that he can choose to use Balance's boon to suppress his rages instead of ending them, though I don't recall it ever coming up. Balance sits in Drojic's head and occasionally talks to him, but mostly it just rests.

The village immediately erupts into chaos when the Balance stops enforcing its definition of balance. The PCs prevent too much sudden violence from killing too many villages. Coincidentally, this is about when Ragesian general Signus arrives with reinforcements. The PCs play Seven Samurai and organize the villagers into a makeshift army that outnumbers the Ragesians but is less well trained and equipped. We play out a big fight on the map of Eresh. The final fight with Signus and his destrachan named Loper (BWAAAA) is espeically fun. Due to a long-running joke in our play group, whenever anyone says destrachan (BWAAAA) someone makes a foghorn sound to remind everyone that destrachans are sonic-based dinosaur-like monsters (BWAAAAA).

While the battle is ending the PCs see Caela's invisible stalkers stealing away a couple NPCs, including one the PCs know. The most annoying possible fight to run via Roll20 ensues as the PCs chase down the stalkers, and the invisible stalkers then fly up and away, all while I can't put anything on the map to show the PCs where the stalkers are because they're invisible even when you can see them. But I think the annoyance mirrors how annoying the fight would be in real life.

The PCs kill all the invisible stalkers and rescue all the NPCs, but not before it's clear that the NPCs are being taken into the forbidden Valley of Storms. This, plus the fact that the valley is forbidden, is enough to convince the PCs to go into it and see what they find. I believe the players suspected that all the missing villagers were taken into the valley, and there may have been some other clues that I'm forgetting to mention now that something suspicious was going on in the valley, but I don't think it was especially obvious that the party should go into the valley now. Certainly part of their motivation was that the only other place to go was the monastery, and that definitely seemed like a dead end. They might have even gone back to the monastery and were told again by Caela to not come in.

The PCs boldly go into the forbidden Valley of Storms, proudly flaunting the social taboo and associated physical danger of visiting it. They get into some fights. The fight against the monks of the East and West Wind made them especially suspicious - why would monastery monks need to keep people out of a valley that's too dangerous for people to visit? They were picking up some very Scooby-Doo villain real-estate investor vibes at this point and wanted to get to the unmasking.


The 8th Evil Sage
The PCs make it through to the illusory tower and pit. They discover that both are illusions in really the best possible way: they are careful, they find out there is an illusion hiding a pit, and yet one or two of them still fall into the pit and get jumped. They explore the inside of Pilus' lab. They fight Aurus, kill him, and take his awesome hammer that Drojic as the only normal-ish melee fighter adds to his golf bag.

My tweak of the plotline has Ceala making the Orb of Storms that the Ragesians use in Seaquen secretly from Pilus, after her master has abandoned this secret biomancy lab for a giant flying zord robeast biomancy thing. I decided that she had built a secret lab in the giant empty biomancy vat at the bottom of the map that was hidden by more illusion magic. I made a map an Dungeon Alchemist that fit inside the vat I that revealed once the PCs found it:

The three different orb-looking things on the right half of the room in the picture were part of Caela's magic process for making magic weather-affecting orbs. When the PCs got into the room the process of making another orb was mostly complete. Also in the room were books about biomancy and cages and a dissection table for examining biomancy monsters (and maybe using them to power the creation of the orb).

As an aside making that room in Dungeon Alchemist was super easy. The usefulness of the program is limited by the different backgrounds and built-in room dressing. I had to use the "ice" floors and walls to try to make something that looked like glass, for example. But it didn't take any artistic talent to make the room look as good as it does.

Eventually the PCs make their way into what was Pilus' study and meeting room. Instead they find Caela there, who literally drops a giant plot clue on their heads when they enter. I do my best to make Caela a challenging fight, and have to settle for her being kind of annoying. Of course the PCs triumph. They find themselves with a lot of information about how to do biomancy and how to do weather magic with magic items, and a huge laboratory designed exactly for doing those things. They can tell that Caela was probably doing some things that the masters of the monastery were not aware of (the PCs still don't know or realize that Pilus is also hiding things from Longinus), and that she was doing them for the Ragesians, but they still feel like they're missing something.

They magically communicate with Simeon from inside the lab. He tells them enough about Castle Korstull for Scarlett to decide to finish making a weather controlling orb that affects magically bad fire rain. Then they head back to the village to rest and resupply before heading to Korstull.

Somewhere in there Balance leaves, granting Drojic her boon before finally leaving. She may or may not show up again, depending on how many callback opportunities are written into future mods.

They head back to the monastery. Without Caela there to keep them out, and with Balance's effect on Eresh over, the monks let them in and grant them an audience with the two masters. They admit that they trusted Caela too much and that she betrayed them, and then proceed to throw her under the bus for everything else bad that happened. They are appreciative that the party was instrumental in pushing the Ragesians out of their valley. To help they offer (yet more) free horses, supplies, and share information about Ragesians and Shahalesti being around Korstull.

The party is not completely satisfied but isn't sure what else to do here. They leave the mountains and head into Sindaire, on their way to Castle Korstull and the Torch of the Burning Sky.

I hope the PCs don't feel too lost at this point in the campaign. Especially since
they're about to have a "I'm sorry, Mario, but our artifact is in another castle" moment.

That's a neat map. I miss having a desktop PC where I could make stuff like that.

Got any surprises planned for adventure 6?


The 8th Evil Sage
Tears of the Burning Sky

Funny you should ask about the next adventure, @RangerWickett. I was looking forward to running a relatively straightforward dungeon delve and planned on running it as written. But the PCs had other ideas.

The adventure started pretty normally. The party took their necrotic fire rain weather controlling orb and free horses and heading into Sindaire. They visited Gathin, killed the Ragesian garrison, and chatted up the locals. They learned about the general rebellion in Sindaire against the Ragesians and the general weather patterns of the necrotic fire rain. They hear about another group of heroes sent by Seaquen who failed at their mission, but I don't think the players ever put two and two together and realized that out of multiple groups of heroes sent out by resistance they're the only one that ever has any success.

The PCs activate the weather orb and head down the canyon towards Korstull. Griiat shows off how cool he is and the PCs fight some undead with fire for eyes. The sergeant who casts wall of fire and is healed by fire is fun, but ultimately the action economy means the PCs kill him before he shows off his synergistic mechanics too much.

The party also meet the halflings and gnomes of Clan Millorn. After some initial caution they enter into full-blown negotiations to split up what they find in the castle. The PCs try to not give away that they're part of the resistance and that they're specifically looking for the Torch, but eventually everything comes out. The Millorn-ites are willing to give up anything of military value, including information, in exchange for 90% of the cash and cash equivalents. The PCs want to only give them 75%, but are willing to go up to 80%. I don't think the PCs realize that Jorrina scried on them, but they are suspicious of how much Jorrina appears to know of their negotiating position.

The PCs also get suspicious of how much the Millornites are unwilling to budge from their 90% share of the money, and are generally suspicious that another group of adventurers just happened to show up right when the PCs did. The party starts to wonder if Jorrina is actually something like what Deception and Madness were, so Romero starts singing the Song of Forms.

I will admit now that I've been playing the Song of Forms as more powerful than I believe it's written. Romero had to spend time learning sylvan from Tiljan before he could learn the song, and whenever he sings it he loses hitpoints off of his max health every few minutes. I want to encourage PCs using the song since it's specific to the campaign, so I generally have it always work instead of giving a save. I have not yet regretted this decision, but the campaign isn't over yet.

To the surprise of everyone present, a Trillith jumps out of poor Ernest (I decided that he was possessed by the trillith instead of actually being a trillith, I think to avoid the PCs discovering Deception even earlier in the negotiations. I found this to work out fine in the end). Now some very complicated negotiations occur. The trillith, who is Deception, lies outrageously about what it is. It explains that yes it's a trillith, or some sort of dream creature at least, but it's so newly born that it doesn't know who it is or what it's supposed to do. It's scared, it explains, and just wants to leave.

I believe Romero stops singing the Song of Forms at some point, either to avoid losing more from his max hit points or to participate in the negotiations or both. IIRC that's when the trillith acts by turning incorporeal and trying to possess someone else, and the fight starts. It tries and fails to rapidly disable the PCs or three more powerful Millornites. (The weaker Millornites spend the fight tending to Ernest, who understandably is quite overwhelmed.)

The incorporeal trillith makes its way into the cliff face at the top of the map. It can't stay there because it doesn't have a lot of hit points and staying in a solid object hurts it, so it floats up and enters an archery bunker that's 40-ish feet off the ground and overlooking the killing ground in front of the entrance to the castle. I now think it will get away down the narrow tunnels in cliff that connects the various bunkers. Nope. Tarak the monk runs up the wall and jumps into the bunker. Raziel and Scarlett both summon creatures into the bunker. At the level the party's at being incorporeal simply isn't as safe as one might think, I guess.

The trillith finally gives up. The party wants to capture it but can't force it to stay corporeal without Romero literally singing himself to death. They settle on having it possess Eren(!!!) but never exert control over him, just like when Balance "possessed" Drojic as a way to rest and stay with the party without having to actually do anything. Possessing Eren is better than being killed, so the trillith agrees.

The session that was supposed to get the party into the dungeon instead jumped right to fighting a final boss. The Millornites exchange glances and start asking what the hell happened - they just watched the PCs make something jump out of Ernest that everyone beat up before forcing the same thing to jump into one of the PCs. Jorrina says, "Fine, we'll accept 80%, but that's our final offer." The PCs agree, and the credits roll.

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