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WotBS advice needed (SPOILERS galore)

Leska is motivated by a loathing of pretty much everyone, which turned into a desire to have power over everyone. Her personal goal is conquest for the sake of conquest, and she's just using Coaltongue's death as a justification to rally her people into 'finding the ones responsible.' Also a bit of 'make a show of force so no one thinks we're weak.'

Since there's not a ton of long-distance communication, she's able to deploy armies in multiple countries at once, without them really questioning why she is apparently trying to conquer the whole world.
 

trencher7

Villager
Really short update:
The Saga continues...
We started with the players returning from the outermost watchpost in the Alydi Pass and ended when Steepengard´s army arrived at Gallo´s Fend. In between the group was able to convince Lord Dashgoban as well as Lady Timor to send troops in order to fight agaist the King´s army. They also convinced the inhabitants of Pitchwood Burg to melt the river and delay Steppengard´s army.
So all in all everything went according to plan, extremely smooth and we all had a lot of fun during the session. 2 players were absent so everyone agrred that calling it a day the moment when Steppengard´s soldiers make camp and prepare for the attack was the right decision so that everyone has the chance to attend next time.

But I won´t end this short update without a couple questions:
- My group was able to capture Inquisitor Crona alive and they want to get information about the Scourge (I mean the Order to capture magicians not the weapon itself). So what does the average Inquisitor know about the order?
- My group tries really hard to translate/ decipher the letter written by Kreven concerning the Scourge (this time the weapon). they made a copy (not an 100% accurate one due to some bad die rolls) before handing it over in Seaquen. I want them to succeed sooner or later. they really deserve that, so I will prepare the handout for them to work with it. What apart from what is stated in chapter 8 would you say are the information this handout absolutely must contain?

Thanks in advance!
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Crona is a fairly low-level inquisitor. She will not know anything beyond her orders --- as will be the case with most Ragesians. There are precious few who know the whole picture: Leska and Kreven would be two of them. Hence why the journal is so important. Crona will just know to gather up spellcasters and send them back up the chain. The other scourge is several steps removed from her, Boreus, and the other inquisitors the heroes have met up to this point.

As for the other scourge and the journal, it will be hard to decipher anything with a bad copy, but the heroes could always request to see the original. The easiest place to place clues would be in the visions in adventure 7.
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
Maybe let them decipher the name Koren from the journal; the name of both the Obelisk and Kreven's wife. Due to the bad rolls, they miss out the obelisk part initially. When they interrogate people about Koren, they will learn that it is Kreven's wife, a former wayfarer. It will give them some info to follow, but not quite spot on.
 

trencher7

Villager
Maybe let them decipher the name Koren from the journal; the name of both the Obelisk and Kreven's wife. Due to the bad rolls, they miss out the obelisk part initially. When they interrogate people about Koren, they will learn that it is Kreven's wife, a former wayfarer. It will give them some info to follow, but not quite spot on.
Brilliant idea!!!
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Maybe let them decipher the name Koren from the journal; the name of both the Obelisk and Kreven's wife. Due to the bad rolls, they miss out the obelisk part initially. When they interrogate people about Koren, they will learn that it is Kreven's wife, a former wayfarer. It will give them some info to follow, but not quite spot on.
Then Koren is the scourge. Sheena Larkins would agree with that. :)
 

trencher7

Villager
So next session will be more or less the battle for Gallo´s Fend. I will start with sending the PCs out to eliminate the war magician Kelkin the night before the battle starts. I decided against sending them to sabotage the war engines because I think that two black ops missions in one night might be a bit too much. Over the course of the day they will, if they decide to join the battle directly, be attacked by three waves of enemies. That´s the plan at least.
First wave will be Steppengard Knights and Troll(s), second wave will be Brakken, Soldiers and Commander and third wave will be Soldiers, Knights and Bowmen (in order to lure them out of the battleline). In the night Gallo will send them on the mission to attack Königsmarschall Malkan and to turn the tides of the otherwise lost battle.

Now I am looking for ideas to spice up the three waves during the battle with some objectives the PCs have to achieve á la Red Hand of Doom. Something like "secure a portion of the wood to prevent the enemy to come through", etc. You see, I am not very creative at the moment. Do you have some ideas for objectives during the battle?
Thanks in advance!
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
I did it the other way around. I sent mine out to handle the war machines, and those machines that survived blasted the field once in a while. Leaving the mage alive made it possible to add some randomness to the fight. Honestly though, the fight was mostly something unassuming. It wasn't really memorable other than for its long build up in my campaign. My players aren't really into the big army battles in RPG, and of course that influenced the way it ended up being played out. Not much help from me I guess.
 

trencher7

Villager
Thanks nonetheless!
We aren´t into mass combat either but I see this as an opportunity to get out of my and my players` comfort zone and try something new and maybe create something memorable. But in order to do so I would like their actions to have some sort of goal instead of just holding the line I guess.
 

trencher7

Villager
So maybe something like this:
First of all the PCs are assigned as second wave troops. They see the first wave break and step in to defend a certain place (Wave #1) and make sure that the beaten first wave is brought to safety. Then they see that commander Hertiage is cought by enemy troops and shall be brought into the enemy camp. They have to get to him (Wave #2) and rescue him. This could work, couldn´t it?

Now I just need an objective for Wave #3.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
So next session will be more or less the battle for Gallo´s Fend. I will start with sending the PCs out to eliminate the war magician Kelkin the night before the battle starts. I decided against sending them to sabotage the war engines because I think that two black ops missions in one night might be a bit too much. Over the course of the day they will, if they decide to join the battle directly, be attacked by three waves of enemies. That´s the plan at least.
First wave will be Steppengard Knights and Troll(s), second wave will be Brakken, Soldiers and Commander and third wave will be Soldiers, Knights and Bowmen (in order to lure them out of the battleline). In the night Gallo will send them on the mission to attack Königsmarschall Malkan and to turn the tides of the otherwise lost battle.

Now I am looking for ideas to spice up the three waves during the battle with some objectives the PCs have to achieve á la Red Hand of Doom. Something like "secure a portion of the wood to prevent the enemy to come through", etc. You see, I am not very creative at the moment. Do you have some ideas for objectives during the battle?
Thanks in advance!
You may want to play it by ear on whether you run both sabotage missions. My group easily handled the assassination and took a short rest before the sabotage. They stocked up on oil and alchemist's fire before the missions and used those to successfully burn the 3 catapults (barely getting everyone out). Also, a catapult could wreck their lines with a few lucky shots (and is worth negative victory points).

A word of caution with drawing the heroes out from the lines: they should still be using the other squads to their advantage and absorbing the enemy forces with them even if they advance beyond the chevaux de frise. Single heroes confronting squads on their own is probably a bad idea; the squads hit hard.
 

trencher7

Villager
So maybe something like this:
First of all the PCs are assigned as second wave troops. They see the first wave break and step in to defend a certain place (Wave #1) and make sure that the beaten first wave is brought to safety. Then they see that commander Hertiage is cought by enemy troops and shall be brought into the enemy camp. They have to get to him (Wave #2) and rescue him. This could work, couldn´t it?

Now I just need an objective for Wave #3.
It never came to wave #3 :)

The PCs were sent out to make sure that Warmage Kelkin would not participate in the upcoming battle. It was more or less clear that this would be a killing mission so the Paladin made clear that he had absolutely no desire to join the group in this task. They even tried to convince him that they would try to capture the Warmage but the Paladin stayed adamant.
The rest of the group sneaked near Kelkin´s tent and through clever use of magic abilities were able to indeed capture him alive. Their reasoning was that he could still be important when it would come to fight off the Ragesian forces when they invade Dassen. They escorted the prisoner to one of their outposts.
The group also went to sabotage the heavy catapults and suceeded although they had to fight some of the guards.
They returned to Gallo´s Fend and met with Duke Gallo and the Paladin who was glad that they didn´t turn into cold murderers.
The night before the battle the PCs were invited into Commander Hertiage´s house as it is custom in Gallo´s Fend to celebrate the night before a battle with your loved ones. It also strengthened the bond to Hertiage so that the PCs had a reason to risk their life in order to save him later on.
The battle itself went according to plan. Both parties sent emmissaries to see if Duke Gallo would surrender and avoid bloodshed but this was out of the question after all that happened. The PCs had to burn through a lot of their ressources and they had a real tough fight.
When the sun set both armies retreated back into their camps. During that the PCs observed that a lot of heavily injured enemies got up from the battlefield and also returned back to their camp wailing manically. I made this happen because of Madness´s influence. This would make the soldier´s ignoring their pain and injuries. They PCs went under disguise into the enemy´s camp to see what happened and realized that there has to be a power that makes the enemies ignore their pain so that they will be able to return to the battlefield in much larger number the next day.
When the PCs returned to Gallo´s Fend we called it a day.

So I think that next time Duke Gallo has to call for drastical measures and sends the PCs to kill the Königsmarschall (the Paladin´s Player will not be there) as the adventure suggests.
 

trencher7

Villager
The next session is over. The morning after the first day of battle they went to the Command HQ which I decided to be a large building in Markenhold from which it was possible to oversee the battlefield. While Gallo and his advisers had to change their strategy in order to break through the enemy´s lines and force a fast positive outcome. The enemy´s first battle line consisted of mad, severely injured fighters "resurrected" by Madness´ influence.
The PCs decided that they had to cut off the head of the army and after talking to the imprisoned Warmage Kelkin they got to know that it seems that Glibglammer is more than she appeared to be.
While the battle was raging they sneaked around/ through the wood. The Ranger led them through the lines of the skirmishers and after overwhelming a small group they took their tabards and could disguise themselves. They sneaked into the main tent and found Nina and some guards. It culminated into an epic battle in which I nearly wiped out two thirds of the group but they merely survived and with a bit of luck and extremely well done planning they could leave the enemy´s camp without being noticed.
They traveled back to Markenhold to speak to Duke Gallo. He should order the fight to end because thousands of Dassen soldiers already died for nought (before Madness left Glibglammer´s body it revealed some parts of the plan to the PCs as every good villain should always do.:D)
The next morning Königsmarschall Malkan met with Duke Gallo and presented the invitation to Bresk. Of Course the PCs were suspicious but Gallo convinced them to ride with him and see what will happen. Maybe Steppengard came to his mind now that his advisor was gone.
They appeared in Bresk and were paraded through the city. The King Held his speech and after that they went to celebrate and enjoy the fair outside the city.
The next morning they went to see the Book of Eight Lands and after seeing that everything was in order (for now) they went back into the City. On their way they witnessed the King´s housecook (not knowing who he was at that moment) argue with a customer about his taste of food. But they decided to not get involved and continued their way to the fair grounds not getting to know that there was something going on in the palace. ;(
That´s when I called it a day.

Questions will follow later. ;)
 

trencher7

Villager
Alright, here I am again. Preparing the next session and having some questions.

1.) My group wants to search Nina Glibglammer´s room hoping to find some clues which might shed some light onto the last events. What would you say will they be able to find there if anything at all?
2.) They want to find out more about Etinify and his whereabouts. Where could they find some clues without spoiling the whole Story?

Thanks in advance!
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
1) I would say that either they will find her room being untouched (because she is mostly incorporeal), which would be suspicious or a room that is a mess beyond comprehension (madness transferred into the room). Either way I would let the room be a hint to her being more/different than she appears at court.

2) I had Etinifi go to Seaquen first. So a professor there met him, and thus know about Seelas. He might know that he went north in search of adventures (or even Ragesia). And of course there is Tiljann, who would know a lot about her hero (maybe he sent messages home at first).
 

Lylandra

Explorer
My players did exactly the same!

1) I let Glibglammer's room be totally secured, knowing that they'd try anyway. Inside, the sneaky one found a messy room, total chaos (she *is* madness after all), some traps that may or may not have belonged to the actual Nina and a trace of Red Madness. I thouht this would be a safe option to reward them for succeeding without giving them too much clue about what might have befallen Steppengard, since the Red Madness poison would only come into play at the banquet.

2) You may wish to use the "Sunken Temple"/"Tiljann's quest" part of the 4e version where Etinifi left some traces in an underwater temple of the Aquiline Heart near Seaquen. I also made him go to Seaquen first and start going north from there. If you wish, you may hint some parts of his journey during the Korstull episode as he might have travelled through Sindaire to get to Ragesia
 

trencher7

Villager
So what happened last time?
First of all, the game didn´t start under a good star. The Player who re-joined the group playing Balan Bastom couldn´t make it. Two Players were there on time, one was 90min later, one was 2hrs late and the last player appeared even one hour later. All within good reasons (real life reasons) and in hindsight I should not have insisted on the appointment because it was hard to find a good start with the players appearing by and by.

We started with the PCs joining the last day of the festival in Bresk. Last time the PCs decided to not react to the King´s cook having an argument with a customer. When they got back to their accomodation in order to prepare for the Banquet they got to know that the King changed his plans and that Duke Gallo was already in the castle. The PCs panicked, took their stuff and headed to the Castle gates only to learn that King Steppengard ordered the guards to let no one enter at this point. In order to make the PCs realize that something foul was about to happen, the Bard spotted Serrimus on the castle ground. So they knew that they had to enter the castle at all cost. They waited a couple of minutes in a dark corner and then flew over the wall, sneaked to the main building, flew up the wall up to a balcony and entered Glibglammer´s room. The room was in total Chaos. After a thorough search they went to the hall and fought against two guards and entered Steppengard´s bedroom. From there I decided that there will be a secret passage leading to the throne room which the group entered. This was the time when the last player finally appeared and the group was complete.
The Bard cast invisibility, went into the kitchen saw nothing interesting and sneaked into the banquet room. The doors were closed, the Bard alone in the Banquet room, the rest of the Party waiting in the throne room and then all hell broke lose!
It was a hell of a fight. Steppengard initiated the killing and then my players panicked again. They broke into the banquet room and tried to sort out what was happening. The fighter knocked out Steppengard and tried to protect him from the others´ attacks. To be honest it did not help that the Ranger which evolved a habit of collecting magic items and put them to use without identifying beforehand had to use a cursed weapon which made him berserk and also start killing others in the room.
After the fight which some of the PCs barely survived was over they took the opportunity to bring Gallo away before someone could ask any inconvenient questions. The last they got to know was that the King is alive but still unconscious.
After they brought Gallo to a safe place they started some investigations and met the cook and his friend the guard who both told their stories about what happened beforehand and so they got to know about the secret entrance through the sewers and the Special Cooks which were engaged by Steppengard to prepare the feast.

After that I called it a day.

When I drove home I had the impression that nothing plot relevant had happened and was afraid that my players might not have the amount of fun they normally have.
So I was really impressed when the players started a discussion in our chatgroup about what happened, what all of this means, where to go next, what to do next, and how intense the fight scene had been etc.
We even met in person a week later to talk about some Things that happened so far, to sort some stuff out and it got clear that my players really love the story and what happened so far. We decided that we have to order a really large Whiteboard for our gaming room...

One of the best comments was concerning how hard this campaign feels. One Player stated that after letting Kerrycheck kill the elven Girl, killing all Seela in the burning forest, freeing Indomination from the lake, snuff the fire in the wood, letting nearly all of Seaquen´s command crew be assassinated by Giorgio, letting the Elves take Control in Seaquen, etc. he feels as if the setting of the game has been set on "nightmare" so far.

So now up to the question:
I asked my group what has to be completed in order to make them feel they accomplished the right thing and can leave Bresk so that we could start the next adventure. They replied that the situation in Dassen has to be stabilized and they would like to know whether Dassen supports Seaquen in the war or whether Dassen still supports Ragesia.
At the Moment the King is still unconscious so I could have it both ways. the King wakes up and is a) a normal Person again, sees his mistake and supports Seaquen or b) he wakes up and is still mad and keeps supporting Ragesia c) or the King does not wake up and someone else will be the new King, preferably Gallo?

C seems to be the easiest solution, followed by A. Both secure the support for Seaquen and could make the PCs return to Seaquen to start the next adventure. But I am tempted to go with B and let Steppengard still be crazy when he wakes up so that my PCs have to find a solution for the Ragesian threat. They even talked about that they maybe would have to assassinate the King as a last resort. The Paladin´s player talked with me about that. When the group last time decided to go on a killing mission he refused to participate but now he said that this would be a great opportunity to initiate the downfall of his character which he really would like to rpg.

So what do you think? Which route should I chose and what do I have to watch out for?

Thanks in advance!
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
It seems like they need to provide proof of the red madness and the impending invasion to the council. At this point it sounds like Serrimus and Torrax are still afoot. If the heroes want the situation in Dassen to be stable and win Dassen's support for Seaquen, that is probably going to be done through politics and presenting evidence to the council rather than force of arms. The council can still meet without the king, and as long as 6 of them support the Seaquen, they have the majority. This time, it might be more useful to have the convincing done through evidence and testimony rather than an ability check.

After that, it almost doesn't matter what happens with Steppengard outside of story beats. Steppengard can wake up, learn of the council's decision, and go along with it. Having been separated from Madness for a while, he is most likely contrite, but the time for throwing away the crown in the heat of the moment might be past.

In any case, it sounds like Dassen might be secure, and a win for the heroes will likely make them feel like they have turned a corner.
 

Mrpereira

Explorer
I admit that I do have a tendency to being a real bastard in regards to storytelling, when I am DM - but this is what I would do.

I would have Steppengard wake up, insisting that he was mad, but of course he isn't now (but roleplay him intensely enough so that they will be in doubt). He will naturally support Seaquen now… They saved him and his country, so of course he will... don't ever doubt it... Nothing Ragesia will say will ever change his mind... etc. make up those sentences that just hover in the air with uncertainty.

Eventually you can decide whether or not they are true if the players don't take matters into their own hand. If they do take him out, then of course all he said was true and you have the downfall for the paladin opening. If they let him live, then keep playing on the uncertainty whenever they receive news from around the world - making them wonder if they did the right thing.
 

trencher7

Villager
Here we go again. I will start preparing the next session (aftermath of Adventure 4 and beginning of Adventure 5) in the next days.
While thinking about what´s going to happen I decided that I wanted to give my PCs the chance to gain some more usefull Information from Balance about the Trilliths´ "Background, Motivation, etc" without giving to much Information away.
So what, apart from what is stated in the Adventure, could Balance give away? Should it already hint towards Gate Pass as the important place? Can it identify some more of her kind?

Thanks in advance.
 

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