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WotBS Tolamaker's Burning Sky


Here's my thoughts on those two...

I think Lee, being the practical sort, has tried to keep his finger on the pulse of the war effort, and probably believes that Ragesia has no legitimate opposition (honestly, without the PC's intervention, Ragesia wins the war pretty handily). Then, sensing the way the wind was blowing (pun intended), decided to get on the bandwagon early. Better to be in on the ground floor, he figures, than hedge his bets and risk getting caught in the crossfire, once the fighting really starts.

In the final chapter, as well, there's a druid Inquisitor commanding an orb of storms, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that he'd been offered a similar role. Should he successfully crush the fledgling rebellion in Seaquen, a high ranking seat at Leska's side would be waiting for him.

As for Katrina, we know she left her brother Rantle four years ago, and found her way into Ragesia. She was basically hired to train Inquisitors, thanks to her skill with offensive magic: they needed something to practice their counterspell abilities on. That experience would give her some notable insight and connections with the organization. Further, it gives her contact with even Leska & Coaltongue themselves, and that very familiarity is a good reason why Leska would have recruited her for her own plot.

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Katrina is looking out for herself. Her primary goal is to survive the war, and, like Lee Sidoneth, she does not see a way to stop Ragesia. To turn her to the Resistance, the PCs need to be successful in their missions (show that Ragesia can be defeated) and convince her that looking out for others is the right thing to do (think about others in addition to herself).


Session 19

The party follows Laurabec to the Lyceum, where the erinys is placed within an amberglass cage constructed by Kiernan, a dwarf who teaches abjuration at the Lyceum. There, they and Laurabec and Simeon question the erinys (named Jezska) about her role. Jezska plays coy, pointing out that she merely attempted to enter a room, and they attacked first. She admits she was there to take the intelligence from them, and tells Simeon that she has not killed anyone or harmed anyone, and should be set free. "I was not ordered to bring any harm to the citizens of Seaquen, and I have no intention to. The Ragesians have no ill will towards this small town."

Simeon however reveals that he has no intention of letting Jezska go, and floats the idea of executing her in public. Jezska begins to be a little more amenable when Orwin suggest banishment in exchange for information, as opposed to execution.

Orwin asks who is summoning the devils that have been plaguing the party. While she is unable to reveal who summoned and gave her orders, she is able to tell them she was summoned by inquisitors. This worries Simeon and Eluriah, for while the Inquisitors are their enemy, they are still nominally clerics.

Eluriah asks her why no one can teleport safely, and Jezska says she doesn't know why. She compliments Gruz on his willingness to pass through the flames to get the job done.

Mishka asks who will be sent as a replacement for Jezska when she fails. Jezska says she doesn't know, but her contract is for the next 5 weeks.

Aripos asks what her favorite color is. Jezska says she would love to inlay gold in her black armor.

Gruz asks if Jezska heard any rumors as part of her undercover act. Jezska reveals that she charmed the entire Auyang family and a number of dock workers throughout the city. She says the charm should wear off when she is banished.

With questions done, a priest of Suijin, wearing the same blue and pink that Torrent wears, is brought in to banish the devil. As thanks for coming to her defense, Jezska breaks off the tip of her horn and gives it to Orwin, saying if he crushes it beneath his foot, she will come to aid them for a single day. When she is banished by Suijin's fishhook, her armor and weapons are taken with her, but not her scarf.

The rest of the week, the party decides to take some time off. They set up camp out of town at the edge of the forest. Orwin begins learning tattoomancy from Tenga, and researches devils alongside Aripos. Aripos begins their career as a thief, but it doesn't go smoothly, and he barely gets away before being caught. He drinks his sorrows away at a tavern. Eluriah continues learning Sylvan from Tiljann so she can sing the Song of Forms, and goes exploring in the sunken ruins to the east, discovering that they warm up and steam when the tide is low. Gruz tries to join a fighting ring among the Dasseni soldiers, but General Xava quickly shuts it down. He does try and get the scutlebut, and learns that Sindaire is under attack by Ragesia for not giving up its mages easily, and legions are travelig close to Dassen in order to reinforce the Shahalesti front. However, he learns about the Royale, a ramshackle arena that's been set up in the ruins, and goes there to fight, where he runs into Mishka who had the same idea. They both do well in their bouts, with Gruz undefeated, and Mischka barely losing her last fight with a halfling rogue. Mishka brings her winnings to Madame Xendros and buys a potion of hill giant strength.

Post-Session Thoughts
The questioning was fun, but also funny how they went in directions I thoroughly didn't plan on. When they asked what part of hell she was from, I googled nine hells and said Asmodeus, and Orwin's player who knows D&D lore far better than I do gasped, and basically convinced themselves that Asmodeus is the big bad of the campaign. I pulled out of character a bit to clarify, but that was a roller coaster. Everyone was on board with going to hell to fight Asmodeus.

Similarly, they are extremely interested in the specific name of who is sending the devils. Even though I know the answer, I find the question moot. Ragesia is sending the devils, its all that matters. On the other hand, they took everything she said at face value. To be fair, I think I only lied directly once, but still. To be fair, I abhor non-stop insight checks, so I'm glad they were simply asking questions and debating the answers rather than trying to play lie-detector.

This was my first time using Xanathar's downtime actions, and it went pretty well! I essentially gave every player one mechanical activity and one RP activity. Mechanical activities give gold and new proficiencies, while RP just means learning and chatting. I was expecting our Artificer to start crafting, but I think they haven't really focused on getting components yet.

Changes to the module
I don't think I changed much, if anything? Not that it came up, but my headcanon Simeon never intended to brutally execute Jezska. One thing I want to emphasize at Seaquen is that the professors are scholars, not warriors. Well, most of them, at least. I tried to play Jezska as more legalistic than monstrous in showing that she wasn't acting against Seaquen, she was simply retrieving Ragesia's property. I think it did a good job of showing the players she wasn't a mindless killer. And even though they beat her, I guess she put enough fear in them that they're on their toes waiting for the next devil Ragesia sends.

I've told the players that they don't get a long rest until they hit level 6, so maybe that will incentivize them to get moving on these sidequests and finish them quickly. I don't want to get bogged down, so I'm going to trim down the number of possible sidequests quite a bit, because from my experience with Curse of Strahd, this group will want to do them all.


Out of curiosity, is there payoff for the increasingly powerful devils sent after the group? From my skim of the chapter outlines, no, but I could be missing something.

The idea I had is that Guthwulf is sending them, and after he fails several times, Leska's patience is wearing thin. They happen to be touring the Koren Obelisk over the Scourge prison (where adventure 8 happens) when word of the failure at the Temple of Echoed Souls comes in, and Leska figures she can't trust Guthwulf.

He realizes she's about to arrest him for torture and execution, so he preempts her by jumping down into the prison on purpose, so at least he'll have his magic to protect himself.


Session 20

Two weeks go on as the group sets themselves into Seaquen.

Tiljann joins the Wayfarer's Cirque, and Eluriah goes to the Theater to make sure they aren't a circus that uses animals in its act. Diashan becomes a devotee of Laurabec's and is helping her establish a pantheistic temple.

Gruz begins researching the creature that slaughtered his company. He isn't able to find anything out from the Dasseni soldiers or researching in the Lyceum. The night of the full moon, his patron, Lady Dalia of the Moon descends and tells him he will not find his information in the Lyceum. She says that the creature that attacked him is a monstrous, unnatural being. She chose him to eradicate this alienness from the earth, and tells him there are traces of this "contagion" in Seaquen as well. If he find and destroys it, she will gift him with a token of her thanks, a Pearl of Power. Gruz then begins his search anew, but is unable to make any headway. He returns to the Royale, and has two ties, and a win.

Eluriah learns more Sylvan from Tiljann, and sets up community gardens among the refugees. She finds a couple who are stealing from her garden, and meets with the leaders of the various refugees to try and make sure everyone has enough food with her druidcraft.

Orwin continues his tattoomancy apprenticeship, and checks in on Crystin's studies. She is working with Deacon, a half-orc who works with sorcerer's to control their powers. Orwin sees Haddin sneaking around to check on Crystin as well, and has a small talk where they reaffirm their dislike for each other, but Orwin says he understand why he's nervous to let Crystin go.

Aripos begins running heists in earnest, and earns enough to get an animated tattoo of Fern dancing on them. He also finally bathes, in the warm waters of the ruins.

Mishka also stays at the Royale and is getting to a point where she is having trouble getting contenders. She also finds out that there are refugees from Gate Pass arriving in Seaquen, traveling through the now safe Innenotdar. When Mishka is searching for news from Gate Pass, she runs into Orwin's parents, and is able to reunite them. Orwin's family owned a shop in the first district that was destroyed by Ragesia clashing with Gabal and his students. They say the dragon killed Gabal. They also have news of Mishka's mother, who they say has helped rebuild and organize the Resistance.

After their second week, Deacon comes to the group and says he's worried that Katrina should have arrived by now. He's heard of trouble with the Head Chop tribe, a group of goblins that aren't happy so many people are moving through their territory. He asks the group to travel into the marsh and see if they can help.

Post-Session Thoughts
A good session, lots of roleplay and generally just having a good time. I did a bit better with giving information, and setting them up for their next quest. I also got to sit back a lot and just let the players chat, which is always fun. The fighters are earning a lot of money, but I'm okay with that considering they don't have a lot to spend on it. I expect once we start getting into item crafting they'll start sinking their gold into that.

Changes to the module
I really cut down on the number of sidequests. This is largely because we've spent so long in Seaquen, I knew that if I introduced half the NPCs and problems from the module, we would finish the chapter in mid June. That means only the goblin tribe, the missing people, and I think the Rabble Rousing that leads to the assault on the blockade are really going to matter. I mentioned the temple, but that's going to be background if anyone wants to bite on it, and I just don't have time to throw in the dragon egg. Fingers crossed, they'll get to see the Wayfarer's performance before February ends, but I know that is a long shot.


Session 21
The party goes into the marshes, and meets the Head Chop tribe, a group of goblins with a well-cared-for guillotine in the middle of their village. Their territory is scattered with poles and skulls. When Aripos sees a alligator skull, he takes it, but jangles some bells. Soon they're surrounded, and Aripos reluctantly puts the skull back.

In the village, they see a group of refugees who have been trussed up. The refugees say they were just traveling through, and have only been given water, not food. The chief and his translator say that the refugees have been breaking their territory markers, and scaring off game in the area. They demand spell scrolls, a packet of Dust of Dryness, and the heads of the witches Handrea in exchange for letting the refugees go.

The group travels quietly, and are able to narrowly avoid an enormous crocodile in the marsh. Eventually, they find a number of huts clumped together, and Aripos goes to investigate. He finds a dead body chained to a wall, and with human-shaped bite marks all over his body. When he tries to leave, he is found, and the skeletons attack. Aripos is stuck by himself, swarmed by skeletons, as the rest of the party rushes in to the rescue. As they near, three witches emerge from a haze and begin working together to stop the party's progress.

Mishka is targeted by the witches with spells galore, but manages to mostly decapitate their pet crocodile. Gruz gets up close and personal, counterspelling as many spells as he can, and Eluriah turns into a black bear, and begins clambering up their house. The fight continues next session.

Post-session thoughts
I fetl kind of rushed with this, and am afraid I didn't do the goblins justice. I wanted them to seem creepy but somewhat justified, but didn't really back it up. It was serviceable I suppose. I did expect the party to haggle a bit more on the deal for magic items, but they seemed to find the deals reasonable (I just rolled three times on Magic Item Table A in the DMG). I figure that Hessilen is a burgeoning mage, and Ogatar wants him to have access to more spells.

Once we got to the Handreas, I had a bit more fun. I rolled random encounters (hence the giant crocodile) and they were stealthing, so the Handrea's wouldn't have seen them with my perception rolls, so I figured the party would get the drop on them at their home. (I also couldn't think of how to make the party go to their home if they were ambushed). Also, they have the skeletons to back them up, so it wasn't a pushover.

The Handreas are no joke. The party has been burning through their inspiration with this fight, with so many crowd control spells, the skeletons have been slowly whittling away at the heroes. I'm usually pretty bad at running spellcasting NPCs, but the makeup of the witches and the tactics in the chapter are very helpful in organizing what each Handrea does, whether that's control, support, or damage.

Changes to the Module
I wanted to make the Severed Head Tribe (They're Head Chop because I couldn't remember their name, but remembered the guillotine) a little more sympathetic. I've always had a soft spot for goblins, so I wanted their motivations to be a bit more nuanced than a bunch of bandits. I also made it so that the decanter of endless water was a gift from Simeon to maintain good relations, so the party won't be bringing it back with them.

I also made Hessilen a man, because I had been thinking about how I literally never have gay characters. Because no one spoke Goblin, I just had Ogatar make very expressive gestures, and Hessilen would blush occasionally. Ogatar likes the idea that the party can't understand what he's saying.


Session 22:
The party closes in on the Handrea's, as Orwin finally arrives. Handrea has warded Handrea, who is acting as the tank, sending magic missiles to almost kill Aripos, who survives with a single hit point. Meanwhile, Handrea is handing out heals to Handrea.

Eluriah drops in on the Handreas' hut as a bear, ending Handrea's concentration on Stinking Cloud, allowing Mishka and Gruz to move forward. However, Handrea casts Fear, and both Gruz and Mishka fail their saves, running as far away as they can. Orwin arrives in time to heal Aripos a bit, and to cast Darkness, dropping all three Handreas and Eluriah into pitch black. Eluriah is caught by a Burning Hands, knocking her out of Wild Shape, and is knocked down by Handrea and a skeleton. Another skeleton fails to land a killing blow in the dark.

Mishka and Gruz come to their senses, and come running back, and Orwin drops his Darkness to allow them to attack. The party pushes their way in, killing Handrea. Realizing they can't win, Handrea and Handrea raise their weapons over Eluriah's body, telling the party to leave.

Mishka and Gruz back down, waiting for someone to make the first move, when Orwin decides that the best course of action is to cast healing word on Eluriah. Handrea and Handrea strike... and miss, and Mishka dives in to eviscerate the Wizard. The Druid runs off, and is about to jump into the swamp when Artemis shoots a flame seed, and burns through his stomach.

Post Session Thoughts:
Ya'll this was stressful. There were no big attacks, no swingy damage until Handrea the Wizard crit on a quarterstaff attack on Eluriah. Then, every single attack against the prone and unconscious Eluriah failed, which was a miracle. Once again, no final words. I'm very grateful that all of my players are more than happy to roll up new characters, but it was still a rush. Extra stress was that Aripos' player was gone today, so I was running him, and he almost bit the dust. The thing is, he seems to believe he's immortal, so he would 100% rush in with 1 HP, but it doesn't mean I felt good about it. Thankfully, he received some healing before it got too much worse.

This was a nailbiter, and one of the few times I felt like I ran spellcasting NPCs competently. The skeletons were nobodies, just dealing 3-6 damage when they were lucky enough to hit, but I could tell when everyone had dropped below half-health and started to realize they couldn't just leave the skellies alone. Orwin's darkness was a blessing and a curse, as it stopped the Handreas from using their spells, but also made it difficult for Eluriah to receive backup. Then when it came time to negotiations, we were still in initiative, and both Handreas had their actions prepared to stab Eluriah if anyone acted against them. Practically two auto crits. Both with advantage couldn't roll above a 9. Overall, one hell of a 4 hour combat.

Changes to the Module:
Didn't get a chance to do anything other than fight. I used this map from Dungeon Mapster, because its what came up when I googled "dnd swamp house map"


The H'andrea fight was a really rough one for my party as well. Fortunately, one of the PCs decided to investigate the huts, found Katrina, who then proceeded to assist with some fireballs to turn the tide for my group. It really is a fight that is more difficult that it seems due to the numbers if they fight both the witches and skeletons all at the same time.


It really is a fight that is more difficult that it seems due to the numbers if they fight both the witches and skeletons all at the same time.
Yeah, I kind of feel like if I didn't have the fight take place at the huts, I would still have the H'andreas precast a few Animate Deads to even the playing field. They have a ton of control spells, and the skeletons let them capitalize on it without burning more spell slots.

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