Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Returning to the Watchtower, or, More Fun With OP Old-School Spells

Whew, that was a session....

So the gang got together for a bit more restrained mischief. We had:

  • Frederick - Thief
  • Slick - Another Thief
  • Waegstan, née Bonk - Fighter
  • Jax - Barbarian
  • Rondel - Elf
  • Mareth - Another Elf
First of all, we made sure that the charmed ogres are fed and busy digging a ditch around town. They like a job to do, after all... Although there is some grumbling regarding the local mutton supply.

Next, trailing a caravan came a gnome driving a somewhat odorous wagon. Hugo was his name, and he claimed to be a seller of potions of a restorative nature. After some haggling, the party were the proud owners of four "healing" potions of dubious quality. (Hugo is an NPC stolen/borrowed from other friends' campaigns, so has been putting some serious mileage on that wagon.)

After a brief discussion, it was confirmed that the party intended to revisit the tower explored in the last session. With the excitement of charming ogres and all, they hadn't given the space a good once-over.

Which was good, since I'd actually prepped for this... 

Tower and inevitable underground bits

The party returned to the locale with no wandering ogres or other critters encountered. Waegstan, always optimistic, strode toward the tower, taking arrow fire. Determining that the tower was now guarded by hobgoblins, the party made plans. Waegstan continued to dodge arrows as the two thieves successfully reached the door unnoticed. The remainder of the party wisely provided cover fire from the trees. 

Frederick and Slick breached the door SWAT-style, taking a third hob by surprise and quickly dispatching him. The two headed upstairs, as most of the remainder of the party now rushed the tower. The remaining roof hobgoblins were done in with minor injury.

This gave the party time to inspect a plinth with a cracked red glass hemisphere previously noted in the tower main level. After some poking about, they decided to chip off a bit of the glass for later analysis.

They continued downstairs, further inspecting the black stone column extending down from the plinth above, finding it slightly magnetic.

They continued down through previously-cleared chambers. Mareth planned to rig a passageway with a tripwire and bell, then found that someone had had the same idea, discovering a tripwire and metallic sphere. The thieves disarmed the trap, with Slick pocketing the new find.

Continuing down, the party found a lantern left burning in the former "ogre wrestling arena."

Making their way cautiously down the twisted corridor, they soon head voices. Mareth crept ahead to see a second party in the old alter space, making some sort of preparation. He and Slick were in the process of planning to re-set the found booby trap in the passageway, when they were heard/spotted. 

Time for shenanigans. 

The opposing party consisted of two clerics, two fighters, and a mage. Baddies, of course. I'd described them to the players, and the mage in copper robes became the focus (She was first level and not actually the leader, but hey, fancy robes!) In the meantime, the two fighters closed, blocking the passage as Waegstan closed with them. Unfortunately, he was struck by a wave of weakness from a spell cast from one of the clerics. Seeing the fighter wobbling, Mareth threw a flask of oil, striking the fighters, and setting them ablaze. The party attempted to close when they were hit by a color spray from Robes. At this point, everyone but Mareth and Goober the Wardog were blinded. Retreat!

Struggling to blind-fight their way back up the passage, Mareth took a magic missile from the opposing mage, and somewhere in the chaos she was killed in turn. Poor Waegstan now took a hold person, now becoming a blind, weak statue (worst save rolls ever). Frederick blindly felt his way into an alcove and utilized his scarf of limited invisibility.

Things were not looking good for our heroes. Fortunately one of the two fighters had succumbed to burn damage, leaving three opponents. The party managed initiative rolls and almost made it to a doorway before being caught by the foes. Thankfully, vision was beginning to clear at this moment. The baddies yelled that they were holding Waegstan hostage, and departing would be the best course of action. Mareth was in bad shape, and took a risk with one of Hugo's potions. It actually worked (this time). 

Not willing to leave a man behind, the party replied with violence (at least bad rolls showing the intent of violence). Fortunately, Rondel charmed the lesser surviving cleric. Only to see them collapse, the victim of Frederick's backstab. Derp. Mareth took a hard hit, and collapsed, unconscious (0 hp exactly).

More clashes, and the attempted murder of Waegstan, and finally all was quiet. The party dusted themselves off and wondered about how to drag Mareth back to town for recovery. In the meantime, they went through the baddies' pockets. They were disturbed to find that three of the dead had signs of mutation (Black eyes, acidic blood, and a tentacle arm). Not good indeed. 

Just like this, I'm sure.

They also got some decent loot, including a "real" healing potion, which got Mareth back on his feet. No building a travois after all...

There was some discussion on what to do with the tower, as it seemed to have garnered attention from unsavory folks. As a likely part of the rumored "barrier," it would be wise to preserve it until more knowledge was gathered. But the party didn't have immediate means to secure or guard it. They opted to simply leave a warning - destroying the summoning circle and leaving charred mutant bad guy bodies. Mostly because adventurers will try to set fire to anything.

Back to town, and the PCs crafted a letter to Proctor Armin, of the temple of Garond, describing their findings and actions and requesting research. The letter was enclosed with a holy symbol to Medeg, a chaos apocalypse goddess, recovered from one of the clerics. 


Medeg, An Apocalypse Goddess for your Old-School Deity Needs

Symbol: Dragon rampant; Alignment: Chaos

Calling for death and disorder from her realm at the rim of the dark, Medeg carries disdain for the gods of growth and order. She counters their efforts with her corrupt sense of balance, and promises power through destruction to the forces of Chaos that fall under her charms and worship. It was “her” comet that the goddess Khador intercepted, and Medeg takes dark pleasure in the knowledge that she bent Khador's innocence and optimism into a more grim manifestation. Medeg wears garments embroidered with comets, and a cloak of scales. Her helm, crested with a scavenging bird, reaps life for miles around if she makes a physical appearance. Medeg rides the mad, twisted dragon Qaphanth, a primal serpentine horror with ruby scales. She communicates to her followers through her avatar, a dragon of smoke. Ceremonies of her adherents include: Calling the Dragon and The Black Spring.

Illustration: Gorgonzola Flies Off On Her Dragon,
Henry Justice Ford

DM Notes:

More fun and chaos, on both sides of the screen. Six players always bring a lot of energy to the table, and having them on the back foot for a good part of the session was a bit of work. (P.S. some observations from JoetheLawyer on running larger tables). At this point, I know what people are going to try at the table, so prepped by baddies accordingly. I expected this contact to be a challenge, no matter how it played out. 

And more worldbuilding, so I need to keep ahead in this. The party has requested info from a few corners, so I'll craft up some more pieces of the puzzle, as well as keep the pressure on the area... A balancing act for sure.

Also, at this point we are clearly not in a "pick-up" game. I've got enough repeat players with investment into the game that we're calling it what it's becoming - a campaign... Pulling the game off Meetup for now, although I still plan to run one-shots for interested folks.

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