WotBS Tolamaker's Burning Sky


This is the part I'm most concerned about for my game. We're getting closer now (up at the outpost) and I'm kind of dreading this due to how complex it feels. I'm glad to hear a report that it is not as scary or intimidating as it feels! I love having your game playing through things a handful of sessions in front of mine!

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Sessions 45 and 46: The Second Wave, and an Unexpected Party

The party and the line regroup after the initial wave of Steppengard's forces. The send the prisoners to the rear, and rearrange themselves behind the cheval de frises to better protect their line. Eluriah transforms into a giant eagle and flies out with a bottle of acid, and drops it on the catapult, aiming for the ropes. She misses, though she does splatter a few of the soldiers manning the machine. Back at the line, they prepare for the rush of cavalry and trolls coming their way.

Just before the wave arrives, a screech erupts in the air, terrifying almost the entire line. Though he is unable to withstand the fear himself, Corban sings a rousing song to bolster the line before the second wave crashes upon them.
The Steppengard Knights charge into the line with force, forcing Michael Gallo and the Dashgoban knights to plug up the center. The trolls also begin pushing their way throught he chevals, ignoring the spikes as their wounds heal almost automatically. Eluriah conjures spiky growths on the ground, tearing at the horses legs. Mishka and Aripose busy themselves with the trolls, tearing into them quicker than their healing allows.

The new formation works well, and a combination of flanking and speed is able to defeat the charge. Gruz hangs in the air ashamed, as he was unable to shake the fear in time to be of any help. As they push back the line, fresh troops arrive to replace them, and they are sent tot he back with the wounded and prisoners. Gruz's brother has a slash across his leg, but he seems fine otherwise. The party is called further back to speak with Gallo, who tells them that the hole they've created in the line should allow them to split Steppengard's forces. Soon after, that is exactly what happens. Gallo begins to prepare an envoy to parley, but is beaten to the punch when a courier from Steppengard arrives with a declaration of surrender. In the distance, Steppengard's army is already beginning to travel back down the Nasham River, in quite the disarray.

Gallo explains that the details also call for a council at Bresk, to discuss the matters "As civilized Dasseni." The party is immediately wary, but Gallo obviously wants to believe that his king has come to his senses. Despite their protests, he says he will go, but agrees to bring them along as part of his retinue.

Traveling to Bresk, they find that the entire city has been decorated for a great celebration, which strangely clashes wiht the somber mood of the city as soldiers from both sides of the conflict are brought in. A few fights break out, but Talon soldiers put an end to them. The parade is led to the courtyard of Castle Steppengard, where the king announces that there are scoundresl and parasites trying to lead them into civil war, and this celebration is a show of defiance at that.

The celebration involves food stalls, a performance competition, and a jousting tournament. Gruz takes part in the tournament, and easily makes his way to the final round, where he is unseated. Mishka and Aripos, who had been making a tidy sum betting on Gruz, lose out on their winnings. Corban and Aripose perform in the "Dasseni Idol" competition, but only make a few gold thanks to Aripose being drunk. Aripose, in between jousts, stuffs his face. He discovers the king's preferred chef, angrily telling his customers they aren't eating his food in the proper manner. Aripose butters him up, and discovers that the chef was told his services would not be needed for the evening's banquet. Eluriah, after learning this, goes to a vendor and buys the ingredients necessary to create antitoxin.

As the festivities wind down, the king bids the lords and ladies enter the castle for their own banquet. As they begin to enter, Eluriah distributes the antitoxin to the party and Gallo, but the Duke refuses. "I am here as a show of good faith. I cannot take this and claim to trust my king."

Post-Session(s) Thoughts
The second battle, honestly, was a bit of a drag. While I really enjoyed the first wave, something about this one was just a little bland. THe fear effect at the beginning of the battle did a good job of making it interesting, but it also led to Gruz's player feeling like he couldnt do anything as he kept failing his saves for the entire battle (he succeededon the very last round, and he was the last in initiative). I think if I were to change anything, I would give Steppengard's forces some archers. Something that would let me deal with Gallo's archers, and the caster PCs.

The session after was very fun. I decided pretty early that I'm going to plau Gallo as too trusting for his own good, and the exasperation from the players as soon as it was clear that he didn't think it was a trap was great. Basically the entire session was filled with them talking about how to keep him safe at this obviously-a-trap banquet. The session ended with Aripose's player declaring that they'll sneak an antitoxin into his drink. My Gallo wouldn't have the protection from poison spell cast on him, so this is great. The joust and all of the side events going on were fun as well, even if I cut most of it for time.

Changes to the Module
I didn't change much with the battle, though I changed some details of the surrender. Because I didn't allow them the chance to destroy the catapults (and because the catapult didn't really play a part in the battle) I kind of rejiggered the points for things a bit differently, where if they didn't use the Xorn they'd get extra points, keeping Gallo safe meant they didn't lose points, etc. All in all, they won, but not soundly. If they had, I would have forced the surrender at the Fend, and had a modified Banquet there.

The celebration isn't too different, though I did expedite the celebration and the banquet into the same night. I also didn't feel like they needed more hints about the king's banquet being suspicious, so I only had the one clue with the chef. The entire group is invited as the bodyguards of Gallo and his allies, and I think the pandemonium will be a nice bow on everything.


Session 46: Banquet of the Mad King

The party enters the banquet halls, and are seated behind Dashgoban and Timor as their bodyguards. appetizers, hors d'oeuvres, and wine are shared in abundance. Aripose is able to intercept Gallo's glass before it reaches him, and gives him the antitoxin. Because of their antitoxin most of the group partakes, especially after seeing Steppengard and Gallo share wine. Eluriah wants to abstain at first, but at last tries the food, in case she can taste any poison, which she cannot. Gruz is the only one who refrains from eat and drink, as he sees the Ragesians are also refraining.

A troupe of performers finish their play, and leave as Steppengard calls for the real meal to begin. Aripose sees one of the Ragesians slip out the back with the troupe, and decides to follow him. Taking a separate exit so as not to alert him, and bolstered by words from Corban, he is able to find the Ragesian making his way into the library, where he uses a secret entrance to gain access to tunnels below the library. Aripose decides to wait as the trapdoor closes behind the inquisitor, so as not to alert him.

In the banquet hall, having eaten his fill, Steppengard refills his glass, and calls for a toast. He thanks the assembled lords for gathering in order to "rid Dassen of all parasites within its borders," and then recites a poem.

Lo! ’t is a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly—
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Wo!

When he finishes, he takes a large swig. The hall is quiet, as the nobles and courtiers try to ascertain what he means by this poetry, when Timor then begins to laugh. And laugh. And giggle profusely. Dashgoban leans forward, placing a hand on hers to ask if she's alright, and Timor stabs a knife through both of their hands at once. The room erupts as others begin to gibber and rave, and Steppengard laughs, pulling out his flail from under the table. "It is time to pay!"

In the crowd, Nina Glemmer's body ripples and purple tentacles and heads sprout from her, revealing herself to be Madness, a trillith. She rushes forward to attack Gallo and Namin, ignoring Steppengard. The king turns to Gallo and hits him in the shoulder. The last thing the Duke sees before his head is caved in is his old comrade's eyes aflame with madness.

The party rushes forward, as Gruz and Mishka flank the monstrosity and carve into its body as it laughs. Thanks to the antitoxin created by Eluriah, all are able to withstand the poison madness... except for Eluriah. However, Corban is able to lay a lesser restoration upon her, freeing her to sing the Song of Forms. When the first notes begin, Madnessscreeches and turns to her. "So this is how you killed my brother!"

In the catacombs, Aripose has seen the Inquisitor cast a spell that seems to banish the Book of the Eight Lands. Suddenly, he also is unable to withstand the madness, and seeing a potential enemy in front of him, fires. The inquisitor flinches, but holds the spell, and retaliates with flames that Aripose dodges nimbly.

In the hall, Namin falls under Madness' onslaught, and Corban uses his Cirqueliste training to teleport Eluriah around the battlefield to keep her safe. Mishka chases after Madness as she attempts to avenge her brother. Gruz rushes to Lord Iztorun's side (and gets a dagger in the side from the old dwarf for his troubles) to protect the other nobles, facing off against his king.

Down below, Aripose and the Inquisitor have closed the distance and are facing off rapier to flaming claws. With a stunning blow to the gut, Aripose knocks the Ragesian's concentration enough to bring the book back for good, and dispatches him swiftly thereafter. The nobles come to their senses above in the hall. A few heartbeats later, Mishka carves into Madness' body as Eluriah maintains the song despite the necrotic cost to her body. With Madness dead, the remaining Lords and Ladies turn to Dashgoban as he rages, and revoke his kingship. "You are not the King of Dassen." His crown falls from his head, his Kingsguard is released from his bond, and Gruz and Mishka rush forward to disarm and wrestle the man to the ground. Eluriah rushes to Gallo and Namin, and pulls off Namin's extravagant necklace, revivifying them both.

As the rest of attendants come to their senses, Aripose returns and tells of the Ragesian's plan. A weakened Gallo raises himself up, and takes in the carnage around them that has miraculously ended without death. Looking away from his former king, he locks eyes with the party. "You have saved all of us, and Dassen as well." He lowers himself to one knee, bowing to them, and the other lords and ladies follow suit as the deposed king spits curses at them all.

Post Session Thoughts
This session was about perfect. Every single player got a moment to shine, with crits from Mishka, Corban playing support to keep Eluriah holding Madness in her corporeal form, Aripose following the Ragesian to understand the plot, and Gruz being forced to lock blades with his king. Chef's kiss. When Madness and Steppengard were first in the initiative, and never missed a hit, I knew I had to kill Gallo in one, no death saves, no nothing. It really set the mood for the whole fight. And even though they were saved in the end, it really didn't feel cheap as Eluriah had a real chance to shine with her quick thinking (Of course lady namin has enormous jewels on her, the better to seduce a king).

Shout out to whoever came up with moving the Book of the Eight Lands to another plane (I think it's just a rope trick in the book?) because as soon as Aripose came up on the Ragesian, everyone gasped when they realized what was happening. It also led to a fun moment after the book was returned where Corban tried to cast hideous laughter on the king, and he was under its protection again. The entire thing felt like an intricate machine that the players managed to prepare for perfectly. A+.

Changes to the module
I'm sure I made plenty of changes. I decided it would be fun to start the madness with a poem, and googling poems of madness led me right to Edgar Allan Poe. I almost wanted to read the whole thing, but also wanted to get into the action. I completely forgot to cast confusion with Madness, but because they were playing keepaway I don't know how much of a difference it would have made. I have reached the point where I automatically bump boss NPCs to max hit dice potential, instead of average. We'll see how long until mooks get the same treatment.

I'm sure I made more changes, but my brain is a little mush after just finishing, so I'll leave it here. Next week, the party gets their rewards, and make their way back to Seaquen! And also hit level 9!

A bit of context to the writing of this adventure. My friend Lydia worked out the initial framework of the plot and wrote several key scenes, but had a personal crisis that required her to bow out of finishing on time. I decided to fill in the rest. However, this was right when I was scheduled for knee surgery for a torn ACL, and so I wrote a fair bit while on painkillers (and then some more while cranky from coming off painkillers while I still had raw tissue).

So while I do remember putting in an inquisitor who will torture you with knee surgery, I'm a little fuzzy on other details. I think it was a good adventure to have Madness as the villain.

Great job with your game and with the ongoing session reports. Looking forward, do you have any plans or concerns about the upcoming modules?


Because we are taking a break after this next session, I haven't really been reading ahead as much as I have been with other modules. I also just found out that apparently at least one player, maybe two, wants to change their characters, so we'll see how that affects things. I've been keeping note of certain character details to try and highlight in the coming modules, so this might change a few things.

Outside of the modules, one thing we're going to try is Foundry. I've been on Roll20 since 2018, and while it has worked so far for me, there are certain foibles I could do without. I bought Foundry a little while ago, and messed around with it a bit, so I think we're going to try the Monastery of Two Winds out on it and see how it goes. If we crash and burn, so be it. The main reason to stay would be the money dumped into the 5e compendium, which is a pain, but not the end of the world.

Do be warned that a couple GMs have told me that adventure 5 is one that they enjoyed least. I'd encourage you to think through how your players will respond, and maybe adapt or alter a few elements.


Do be warned that a couple GMs have told me that adventure 5 is one that they enjoyed least. I'd encourage you to think through how your players will respond, and maybe adapt or alter a few elements.
Do you have any more specifics on this comment? I've started looking through it a bit in preparation as well, so having more knowledge of what has or has not gone well would be appreciated!

This review points out that there's not a ton of decision points. It's a lot of 'go in a straight line, deal with a problem, and go in a straight line to the next problem.' DriveThruRPG.com - War of the Burning Sky 5E #5: Mission to the Monastery of Two Winds Reviews

This was the adventure that made me stop running this campaign. After the previous adventures, which ranged from fair to excellent, this one was a real letdown. The beginning is incredibly linear, offering little opportunities for the players to make decisions. It begins with an exposition dump and an on-rails trip to the village of Eresh, where there's nothing to do.

Once they arrive they discover the monastery is also off-limits and the players are essentially just waiting for one event (ommiting it here because it's a spoiler) to happen so the action begins. And once it begins it doesn't stop, the adventure becomes a series of fights until the PCs finally confront the villain. There's no mystery, no interesting things to do besides following the trail of breadcrumbs, the adventure is exceedingly short and it doesn't even play to its themes of peace or "balance" (the solution to the problems presented is just killing all enemies).

The most laughable part is how one of the main NPCs just shows up out of nowhere, all enigmatic, and doesn't say anything relevant. They go away immediately and the adventure says that they don't provide any more information, not for any personal reason, but because it's "better for the narrative". This was such a bad scene and was mocked by all my players and myself for how childish it is with its desire to be "mysterious" while at the same time not making any sense. It's being enigmatic for the sake of it, and worst of all, it even works against the adventure as it reveals the NPC as the cause of the strange events surrounding the town. If you're running this campaign, seriously consider skipping this adventure.

Edited to avoid spoilers. I'll open a new thread and post my thoughts there.

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Session 47: Gold and Glory

In the aftermath of the carnage, the former King Steppengard is trussed up, and the lords and ladies of the lands confer on what they must do. Except for Lady Timor, who is up to her elbows in the guts of the trillith alongside our heroes. They determine, through a combination of science and speak with dead they determine that the real Nina Glemmer was killed about a month ago, and her body inhabited by the being known as Madness. Gruz tries to use Nina to clear his name of killing the queen, but Nina's spirit was gone at that point, so she is unable to answer. They similarly question the dead inquisitor, who repeatedly tells them to piss off.

The lords and ladies acknowledge the need for a new ruler, with Gallo especially in a hurry to return to Nasham to protect the Alydi Gap. As Gallo moves to make Iztorun king, Eluriah and Gruz interrupt, and make a rousing case for Gallo, listing his heroism and restraint when faced by accusations from his own king. The nobility of Dassen agree, and one by one, the lords and ladies cast their votes for Gallo, who is grinding his teeth. He reluctantly accepts "for now," and promises to make the heroes pay.

As a reward for saving the kingdom, the party is led back to the secret archives, and are presented with a book from the library. It is the Coldcreek Culinary, a halfling cookbook with stories from a far off land. It supposedly was written by one of the Dawnbringers. In its cover, it has two spice jars which can be used to fortify a meal (cast heroes' feast). They are also awarded 1000 gold each.

Except for Gruz. Pulling the half-orc aside, Gallo tells him that while he stands by Steppengard's decision to strip him of his rank, Gallo does not see why he cannot hold some position of importance. "And I want you near the border in case Ragesia decides to try its luck." He grants Gruz the title of Count, and the land upon which his family's farm is on. Gruz happily accepts, though it means he must say goodbye to his friends. Aripose and Mishka make him promise to return someday.

Before they leave to return to Seaquen, Mishka hears chilling news. Gate Pass has finally fallen to the Ragesian legion. Though the news is grave, they are hopeful as they leave, as the first signs of spring finally begin to show.

Post Session Thoughts:
Though this was mostly a wrap up session, only about an hour and a half long, it was still fun to give Dassen a send-off. Gruz's player fully decided to leave, so I figured the minor nobility would be a perfect exit.

The rest of the session was filled with me answering questions about the campaign. For one, I got to reveal the title of the adventure, and most of their questions were what would have happened if X had happened instead. I used to spend much more time pretending I knew all of these answers, and now I'm more honest: I don't know, because I planned based on what you were doing. I honestly spent more time telling the what I cut from the adventure, or changed.

Post-module Thoughts:
I didn't really make any changes in the wrap-up, so I'll skip that for today. Overall, I really enjoyed this adventure. Though it was about 3 sessions shorter than the Storm module, it felt like so much more was going on. Even as I was getting a little tired of the campaign, it was more in the meta sense of needing a break, because the actual goings-on of the adventer were wonderful. I was a little worried about the more courtly aspects of it all, but my players really grabbed onto it. Honestly their only problem was they were too familiar with Gallo, so they were constatnly telling him he'd make a good king. He had to shout at them to shut them up, which was fun.

I honestly dont think I'd change much for this module. Even though Madness doesn't show up until the very last moment, it doesn't feel unearned, or surprising (in a bad way at least). There were so many theories going on around the king's madness, whether he was in control or if someone had found a loophole in the protection of the Book of the Eight Lands, the way that the moment they met Gallo they were whispering that they wished he was king, it was all great. Upon ending it, the players also repeated their praises of the campaign. It's all been said before (world-building, plot, action scenes), but jit's always nice to hear, isn't it?

I don't know if I'll be keeping up anything here while I'm on break, but I'll be around. I'll definitely be checking in on @RangerWickett 's MIssion update, as it looks very cool. We'll see how productive I'm feeling in a month or two.

EDIT: I totally forgot about the one change I made to the module! The Coldcreek Culinary is the first in a line of magic items I plan on introducing to the party, all based on previous characters they've played in my campaigns. Lydia Coldcreek was Mishka's old character, a halfling fighter who gave up her ability to speak her mother tongue in order to gain access to the Amber Temple in Barovia. Every time we were in a kitchen, or around a campfire, Lydia was searching up spices to make the meals better.

All of the items are going to be consumable. When I first came up with the idea, I was going to just have each item grant a minor ability that the old character had, but then I realized that was A. boring, and B. maybe a bit powerful. So instead, everything will be a consumable item that gives a bit of a glance at the possible futures of their old characters, without completely throwing everything out of balance.
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I'll definitely be checking in on @RangerWickett 's MIssion update, as it looks very cool. We'll see how productive I'm feeling in a month or two.
I knew I'd forgotten to do something! Right! Time to get on that!

Congrats on finishing module 4. It's also rather nice to get a Heroes' Feast on tap, since the feast they were supposed to enjoy just nearly got turned into a massacre.


I have a satirical ttrpg news site, and I wrote an article loosely based on when the party decided to surrender themselves to the Talon guard.



It has been almost four months since I last updated this page, and that's because the initial plan of a short break kind of got out of hand. What I expected to be a 2-3 one-shots became a much longer exploration of some other games (plus holidays). Hopefully, we will return to the Burning Sky this or next week! But first, a few flash reviews.

Brindlewood Bay (4 mystery sessions, 1 freeplay)
I’ve run it once as a one-shot with two non-gamers, and it went really well. However, as a player for 5 sessions, I felt like it was a little sluggish, and kind of floaty. Some of this likely comes down to the GM, as well as the fact that I prefer to GM than be a PC, but I think it also falls on the rules. I’d like to write a longer review of it, but the gist is that Brindlewood Bay’s moves are written in such a perfunctory way that it leaves things out that I think are incredibly important. A practiced GM can take these and interpret them in a way to make the game run smooth, but when the GM is new, and following the rules to the letter, it stifles the game.

Alien (1 Rules session, two play sessions)
This was fun. I really enjoyed the mechanics of stress and the spiral that both made our characters more likely to succeed and naughty word up at the same time. This two-shot ended with our entire rag-tag group hanging on to a newly hatched alien, half of us bleeding out as we pummeled it with our fists and wrenches. Somehow came out of it all alive, with enough of a hook to continue if we want to.

Blades in the Dark (1 character and crew creation session, 3 play sessions)
Despite the fact that I’ve written four articles about the game, this is my first time running and playing the game! The first session was a pretty straightforward heist where I probably went too easy on them, but we were learning. The second session was a blackmail/heist job, where I also went too easy, but then the dice turned the whole mess into our first trauma for the group. The player of Gruz, who loves to misty step through the Burning Sky, really likes to test his luck with devil’s bargains and flashbacks. He is now Soft. The third session was half Ghostbusting and half mystery as the crew cleared out some ghosts, as well as solving a murder. This one kind of got out of hand for me, but it was still fun. While I think Blades is obviously viable for running one-shots, I think it really shines when the players have big goals of their own to lead a campaign.

This past week was spent figuring out the foibles of 5e in Foundry. We'll be running in the new VTT for all of Mission, and I'll report back later on how I feel about Foundry vs Roll20.


Sessions 48 & 49: Home and Off Again

The party leaves Dassen, but not before Lady Timor meets with them once again. "While our agreement has technically been met, I would still like to take partnership of your future encounters with the Trillith. If you will have her, my aide, Gwenevere will join you." She introduces a human woman in expensive clothing, and a haughty look upon her face. Though the group has some trepidation, especially on the cold reception, they accept.

On the travel to Seaquen, they learn that Gwenevere is a artificer, specializing in armors and artifacts, and she is in fact quite full of herself. When they come back to Seaquen, they see that in the month of their absence, they see that the refugees have put into practice Eluriah's farming techniques. The find Lurog (Eluriah's husband) has taken care of their tree house as well. They report to Simeon, and are able to learn more about the ongoing war. The Legions have taken Gate Pass, and are also working their way through the north of Shahalesti. The remnants of the legion with Coaltongue at his death has been scattered across Sindaire. Simeon tells the party that they've sent a contingent to the Monastery of the Two Winds, to see if there is any connection between the wind-monks and the storm that almost destroyed Seaquen. Until they receive word, Simeon thanks them, and leaves them to their own devices.

Aripos takes to thieving again, stealing from an art gallery. He leaves behind some footprints, leading tot he locals calling him the Tiny Toe Bandit. Mishka, effectively barred from the fighting pits, trains a halfling fighter in her stead, and makes money by betting on him. Corban tells their tales in the taverns, Eluriah makes healing potions, and Gwenevere helps Sheena Larkin investigate possible teleportation methods.

Simeon calls them to his office with concerning news. The party sent to the monastery has reached it, apparently right before a Ragesan army arrived. However, their sending did not sound urgent, and other attempts to reach them were "like talking to one drunk or drugged." When the party learns that Torrent was among the contingent, they are immediately spurred to action. Meeting with Larkin at midnight, she says they have found a connection between the plane of fire and the sun. Teleporting near midnight somewhat mitigates the damage against them.

A teleportation ring surrounds them, and they are engulfed in flames. Gwenever punches Mishka to make her angry, and Eluriah is protected by her ring of fire elementals. They are left standing, while the rest are knocked out. However, they are not teleported to a friend's garden, but a cage with a white obelisk on it. After explaining themselves to the guards, they are led to the palace of the Khagan. The Khagan is very charming, and listens to their story, and pledges a troop of soldiers to their cause, as Pilus, one of the monks, is his godfather.

Setting off, the party makes their way into the Ostalin mountains. In the passes, they see signs of wolf-tracks, but they don't see the goblin mage preparing a wall of fire above them...

Post-Session thoughts
These two sessions felt a little slow, likely because I was getting back in the hang of DMing. I always feel a little apprehensive in these transitory sessions, so I'll be happy once they get to the monastery and get the lay of the adventure.

Changes to the Module
I've incorporated some of what @RangerWickett has changed, but I also knew that I wanted to get a move on. One of the apparent complaints is that this adventure is linear, but because it leads directly into Castle Korstull, I feel like that's ok. To me, I'm going to focus more on the long-term subterfuge of Pilus and Onamdammin. I changed Onamdammin from imperious to charming. Instead, I made his subjects unquestionably loyal, to the point that the players are suspicious of how "perfect and organized" Ostalin is.


Session 50(Holy naughty word): Battle in the Pass

The party is caught unawares as a wall of fire cuts between them, and arrows suddenly pepper them from above. The source of the flames is a goblin mage with a wicked scar across his neck, mounted atop a menacing worg. The goblin cackles and suddenly launches a second wall of flame, impossibly keeping both up at the same time. The walls separate Mishka and Aripos (the martials) from the rest of the party (the mages), and so they must all figure out what to do on their own.

Eluriah takes the brunt of the fire and arrow damage, and pulls back to send out a mass heal to everyone, letting them recover enough to retaliate. Corban begins to utilize his Wayfarer abilities to dance around the battlefield (getting burned each time). Though he is unable to land any hits with his rapier, his Shatter spells disorient the enemy. Gwenevere teleports herself through one wall to grant Mishka the Jump spell (oops) and then pushes her way through the second wall of flame, making for the base of the pass. Mishka uses a rune of enlarge self to grow to a massive size, and leaps to the top of the pass, swiping at the goblin at the same time as Aripos braves the flames to shoot him as well. The goblin is hardy however, and is able to not only control the existing walls, but also adds a flaming sphere as well, slamming it into Corban.

With the damage getting too much, Eluriah turns into a giant eagle and flies up to safety. Also burning up, Aripos uses his spider-climb tattoo to climb up the pass wall to escape the flames, though Gwenevere warns him not to climb up to the edge. It soon becomes clear why, as Gwenevere unleashes a lightning bolt through the soldiers on the edge. Mishka is finally able to (re)behead the goblin and a Ragesian Captain, and the weakened remainders begin to retreat. The party is able to finish them all off bar one who surrenders.

Questioning him, they learn that this group was sent to guard against anyone who might come to the aid of the monastery. He also mentions that they sent a runner yesterday to make a report, and they had not returned. Making their way to it, they see that the Ragesian forces have camped outside the wall of Eresh, which sits below the Monastery. Eluriah flies over the town, and sees that the soldiers and villagers don't seem to be fighting one another. The party agrees to try and infiltrate at night, but their sneaking leaves a lot to be desired, and they are immediately spotted by a guard who says "You're not allowed to be here."

Gwenevere half-heartedly says, "Yes we are," as the party prepares to fight, but the guard seems to take this well, and doesn't bother them anymore. As they look around, they realize that all of the soldiers are extremely laconic, and feel a strange sense of calm begin to fall over the group...

Post-session thoughts
Remember how I accidentally gave the party a troop of Ostalin troops? Well, I simplified the fight by simply saying there were more soldiers on the field, and they were fighting each other, and didn't bother with them. Easy-peasy.

This fight was a really fun set up ruined by incredibly terrible rolls on the part of my NPCs. I think only 3-4 Ragesians landed a hit, with the only real damage coming from Menchi's fire, which everyone was suitably impressed and scared of. The entire sequence of realizing they're trapped, and each using their own tools to get out was a real treat. But the combat itself was a bit of a slog, not helped by the fact that the way I run health in Roll20 (counting up, because adding is easier than subtracting) isn't how Foundry is set to work (a lot of macros make subtracting the easiest method). So I accidentally added and removed health alternatively, realized I had naughty word up, and did a half-ass job of deciding how many hits each person needed to die after that. It worked out, I think, but it was a bit annoying. I'll have to figure out a system that works for me.

The party spent a solid 15 minutes discussing what they should do outside of Eresh, and it was very fun listening to all the plans they were coming up with that I knew would be immediately deflated as soon as they realized the uncaring attitude of the Ragesians below. It was a great way to end the session as realization hit them that something is very wrong here.

Changes to the module
This may or may not be a change, but Menchi's ability says he can hold multiple flaming spheres, not fire walls, but the description of the fight has him launching multiple fire walls. I decided this was cooler, and decided that Menchi had such an affinity to fire that he had no limits to his concentration on fire spells. Made for a very cool boss.

I delayed the strange nature of the Ragesians for in person just to make it hit harder. So, not a lot of changes, really! Next time (tonight really) everyone makes some Charisma saving throws!


Yeah, I am. Specifically, making Caela the Ragesian collaborator, not Pilus. I like the idea of Pilus as a Ostalin nationalist, who wants Ostalin to come out on top of this conflict, especially if it helps Ragesia's downfall. I'm wondering if a good motivation for Caela is that she also wants Ostalin to survive, but believes Ragesia to be too strong. Maybe she comes from Pilus and Longinus' area, and has also seen the might of the Ragesians (Pilus hasn't revealed his plans to her either. This is a very fractured monastery!). I think I'll make her motivations to be that she has been in contact with General Magdus to ensure Ostalin does not become a target in reward for helping create another Orb of Storms. If that's the case, why is Ragesia invading? Maybe she wasn't moving fast enough, so Magdus sent Signus up to rattle the cage, thinking that the isolated monastery wouldn't warrant much attention. But Balance's interference leads to a build-up of violence, and Signus believes that the lethargy is some sort of monk weapon Caela is using to betray them, which is why they explode when Balance dies.

I think the backstory that makes sense is that the Orb of Storms is an artifact that has been written about before, and needs to be constructed in the Valley. Caela managed to create one, and sent it to Seaquen before realizing that it could be used for more than just an offensive weapon. She is still working on creating the new one, and will finish it as the players are making their way into the lab (growing storms as they approach). I want the players to learn this information as they go, not just in one big jumble at the end, so I'll need to figure out how to tease it out in the monastery and in town.


Session 50(Holy naughty word): Battle in the Pass
I completely bungled this fight. I'm not sure why or how anymore (it's only been a month, but it was not very memorable), but it just went by so simply and without issue. I'm glad to hear it went off better for you though!

Level Up: Advanced 5th Edition Starter Box

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