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WotBS Tolamaker's 5e Burning Sky #1


Session 4
The party finishes handing off the information, and the Shahalesti leave with their copy of the Ragesian military intelligence. Badgerface tells them they should have opened fire as soon as they had the intelligence, but thanks them for saving his life. He is not happy to find out that his codename has been Badgerface, and says he will take revenge on Erdan Menash when he sees him. Mishka suggests pissing in his bed, and Badgerface likes this.

The party decides they need to get out of Gate Pass soon, as it is almost 4 in the morning. They head south, and hear an orc bard playing a sad festival tune. She nods to Mishka when she says to keep up the fight, but doesn't seem to take heart. Gruz notices someone following them, and the party unsuccessfully tries to shake them. The figure reveals themselves to be none other than 𝕽𝖊𝖓𝖆𝖗𝖉, Folk Hero of Gate Pass. He apologizes for scaring them, and says that he would like them to deliver a letter and a gift to his sister. He dashingly offers to provide a distraction as they scale the walls, and gains the attention of the guards as the party makes their way out of the city.

The party decides to move at night, and travels for two nights towards the Fire Forest of Innenotdar. While giving watch some ways away from the road, Gruz overhears some mercenaries with the same insignia as those that attacked them in the pub. He tries to approach, but makes noise in the snow. He manages to convince them that he's just a wandering Dasseni mercenary. In talking with them, he discovers that the mercenary group hunting for mages are called the Black Horses, and they offer him a job. He turns it down, and they part amicably. The next night, Eluriah notices the Black Horses camp, and they skirt around it.

Eventually, they come close enough to the Fire Forest that the sky turns red. Near the ashy plain before the Fire Forest, they see a small farmhouse with a girl standing there. She asks if bears were following them, and reveals that she has visions. She thinks she and her father need to come with the group. Eluriah thinks the "bears" she sees in her visions are Ragesian Inquisitors, a torturous religious order that wears bear skulls to shield their souls. The party agrees to try and convince her father.

Changes to the Module
Mostly superficial ones. I had decided a while ago that Erdan Menash was a gnome. His eccentricities seemed to fit one well. And when the players called Badgerface Badgerface, I thought it would be funny if that was just a code name, not his real one (Rivereye). And from there, I basically improvised some unknown history between these two gnomes, one who is more fun loving, and the other a hardened professional.

I swapped the names of Rantle and Renard. Renard just sounded much more heroic and over the top, which is how I played him.

I made a pantheon, because I got tired of making wishy-washy statements about a god of healing or magic. I'll post it after this one.

Post Session Thoughts
Fun session, and basically the second in a row with only roleplay. I kept mentioning Erdan Menash as an ally, but I think it just came across as he was bankrolling the Resistance, which is sort of true I suppose. Another mixup came when I described ash falling from the sky. I meant that it was coming from the Fire Forest, but everyone interpreted it as Gate Pass being put to the torch. Made for a much darker end to the session, but I liked it.

Meeting Renard was fun, as Mishka's player went all in on the fangirling. This led to Eluriah and Aripose being extremely suspicious of him, and generally not liking him. I played Renard as so virtuous and selfless, he didn't even notice their insults. Very fun to bounce back and forth between adoration and barely veiled contempt. Though I think they were fair not to trust another stranger giving them things to deliver.

These players really didn't want to interact with anyone, and scaling the walls and giving the Black Horse camp a wide berth was part of it. They rolled really well for a group with two heavy armor users, so I gave it to them (also I wanted to keep it moving). They did miss out on the dream shroud and some lore though! Next session will likely be the end of Gate Pass, and then onto the Fire Forest of Innenotdar!

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The Gods of Morusan
I wanted to give each major race two gods in their likeness that they might favor, but not feel like anyone was bound to a certain god just because of race. So I gave each one two positive/neutral apects, and one neutral/negative. Pilfered gods from various regions that roughly lined up with the Campaign Guide's descriptions. Elf Celtic mythology, gnomes- Russian, Humans - Roman, Halflings- Japanese, Dwarves-norse/germanic, and then I got lazy and chose orc gods from D&D. Then, because I started having fun, and came up with color combos and symbols, and then decided I had to stop.

Airgetlamuada – God of Leadership, Hunting, and Death. Portrayed as a young elven man with a silver hand. Colors: Silver and Green.
Gruumsh – God of Rain, Invention, and War. Portrayed as a one-eyed orcish man carrying a spear. Colors: Yellow and Blue.
Ilmr – God of Prophecy, Poetry, and Dementia. Portrayed as an old dwarf in both male and female forms with blue flowers in their hair. Colors: Blue and Orange.
Meditrina – Goddess of Medicine, Learning, and Poison. Portrayed as a one-armed human woman wielding a staff with a snake entwined about it. Colors: Green and Black.
Nantosuelta – Goddess of Nature, Motherhood, and Monsters. Portrayed as a red-haired elven woman holding a staff with a small house on the top. Colors: Black and Red.
Sif – Goddess of the Earth, Farming, and Hardship. Portrayed as a blonde dwarf woman carrying crops. Colors: Gold and Green.
Suijin – Goddess of the Sea, Commerce, and Piracy. Portrayed as a halfling woman with short-cropped hair, often eating some sort of fish dish. Colors: Blue and Pink.
Svarog – God of Hospitality, Smithing, and Fire. Portrayed as a bearded gnome man riding a cloud. Colors: Black and Orange
Talasius – God of Marriage, Building, and Pain. Portrayed as a blind human man holding a torch. Colors: Orange and Purple
Tamanoya – God of Jewels, Art, and Envy. Portrayed as a halfling boy with gemstones for eyes, usually red jade. Colors: Red and Silver
Uzat – Goddess of Passion, Freedom, and Chaos. Portrayed as an old orcish woman holding a chalice of wine. Colors: Purple and Silver.
Zorya – Goddess of Dawn, Children, and Time. Portrayed as a young gnome girl leading a white pony. Colors: Yellow and Purple


Session 5

Crystin wakes up her father, a cantankerous man who does NOT want to leave. As Gruz and Mishka try and convince him, Eluriah suddenly announces that there's nothing they can do, and goes to leave. She opens the door to see a group of Ragesian soldiers and an Inquisitor approaching, and Haddin commands them to protect him. Eluriah immediately unleashes Artemis, and the battle is on. Aripose and Gruz deal with a pair of goblin rogues in the back, while Mishka and Eluriah take the front. Eluriah takes three hits in a row, and is terribly wounded, but the damage snaps her out of her haze, and she realizes Haddin was dominating her. Inquisitor Boreus cancels a Catapult spell from Orwin, and then Burning Hands Mishka, Eluriah, and almost killing Torrent. The barbarian Smiley is dominated by Haddin, but Boreus dispels it, and the confused barbarian takes an Enlarge potion. It doesn't do any good, as Gruz Mind Spikes him immediately after, killing him. Mishka catches the Inquisitor with a javelin to the back, and the fight ends with the remaining soldiers surrendering.

The party interrogate them and find out that the Inquisitor and his retinue expected there to only be Haddin and his wife and child. They explain that mages are rounded up, and then sent back to Ragesia. Mishka convinces them to tell their superiors that Smiley and Inquisitor Boreus chased them foolishly into the Fire Forest. Orwin tells Haddin that there will be more Inquisitors coming, and Haddin begrudgingly begins packing his things. The party is able to gain a little gold and a few crafting materials, and take a short rest before heading into the Forest. Will they be the first beings to make it through alive? Can they ever escape the overbearing shadow of the Empire? Will Torrent ever roll above a ten? We find out, next week!

Post-Session Thoughts

Hoo boy, this one was a doozy. Loved all of the roleplay stuff, while the fight was a mess on my end. Everyone absolutely despises Haddin only a few minutes after meeting him, so mission accomplished. They were angry enough he was dominating Eluriah, but Crystin was helping in the fight with magic missile (with one max damage hit on Smiley) before Haddin told her to go hide with him. At the time, she had done the most damage, and they were worried they were in for a tough fight. The dice eventually turned around. But not before Torrent went down, then took damage from the burning hands, and rolled a nat 1 on her death saves. Everyone freaked out, I found it funny to lose their NPC guide, but then three different people offered their inspiration to let her reroll, so I did. Sill failed, but wasn't dead outright, but it was good to put some fear in them before she got healed. Also, no joke, Torrent did not roll above a ten all session. Not on attack rolls or saves.

Mishka's player has started a collection of bear skulls from the Inquisitor and Smiley. She believes the Ragesians are desecrating them. Good stuff. Also, everyone got to shine in the fight.

Aripos and Gruz - Split the party to eviscerate the goblins. Aripos got off a nasty sneak attack to kill one at almost full health, and Gruz dove through a window (1d4 slashing damage) when the the doorway was blocked off. This is a holdover from his CoS character, who also liked to take damage from diving through church windows.
Eluriah - Accidental tank from the domination, held off javelins from the soldiers, and threw heals around keeping everyone up.
Orwin - Mechanicles, his cat homunculs dealt some nasty damage, and his temp hp turret gave enough buffs to last the fight.
Mishka - Held Smiley in one place, and took an enlarged hit to the face.

And everyone got to single digit health except for Aripos. Boreus was untouched until he began to run away after Smiley died, where he then got utterly demolished, so they got all his healing potions.

The NPCs on the other hand were a mess, and its my fault. I completely forgot how Cancel worked, and had Boreus doing other stuff until I remembered two or three rounds in, "Oh yeah, I should probably let the antimagic cleric do some antimagic." Felt bad after some big spells went off, and kind of threw me off my groove. I don't usually get down on my mistakes too much, but I just felt especially dumb after forgetting that. In reality, I think it was a really good fight, I was just in a funk. I also didn't pop Enlarge until too late, so Smiley only got to take a single swing with it.

Players finally got their level up, but we only took a short rest, so the next session should be interesting. Everyone took an ASI, so they're already jonesing for level 5.

Changes to the module

Somehow, I don't think I made any changes at all! I knew the fight would be long, and I'm really interested in seeing where Crystin and Haddin's story goes. I guess officially I gave Torrent death saves, but I do that for most NPCs tagalongs and to bosses with minions that can heal them. Overall, great session.

With the benefit of hindsight, if I'd had more word count available, I would probably have offered a couple possible paths through the fire forest, with some more perilous than others, to give the players a bit more agency early on. Then Indomitability could intercede to stop them from going any farther, but it would hopefully make the adventure's start feel less of a railroad.

Also, don't beat yourself up. You still nearly killed the party, so going harder and killing them wouldn't really have helped create a fun campaign, no?

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