This game has been my favourite ever. We’ve been evolving steadily as a group of RPers for the past 2 years and I could even say matured at the same rate.
The players have never really wanted to go against my will or piss me off by ignoring my plans. 2 of them enjoy DMing as well so I guess they know how annoying it can be to have players refusing to jump on the rails. They make you improvise much more than usual and don’t get to cash in on all those goodies you prepared for them the night before, giggling madly in your dark dark basement.
This being said, that’s kind of why I want to try something new this time, battle report style (you know what those are if you’ve picked up an issue of White Dwarf in the past).
I was pretty excited about this game, I had some cool stuff prepared for my players and a new one – actually the guy that made want to start playing again – was supposed to join the group.
In the end he didn’t show up but that meant more pizza for the rest of us.
With a belly full and the laptop playing the Skyrim soundtrack we got back into the action right from where we left off, assuming that they rested a full night to regain full HP, right in the dungeon. I had them eat a ration as compromise.
I had prepared a map of a square room with 4 doors, one on each wall. One of them was behind crumbled rocks and another one behind giant vines that Marc right away understood came from the giant jungle tree growing in the temple courtyard. They tried to get through those 2 at first but quickly understood that it was impossible and that I didn’t have anything prepared in that direction anyways.
Poraxion tried to lift rocks and then to chop the vines with his dwarven axe, which gave me the idea to make the vines ooze blue goo that the Ranger gathered in an empty flask that was actually on his inventory sheet. Love this guy.
They finally decided to go through the only possible door, the 4th one being the one they came from. After a thorough investigation of the surroundings (they are scared, good!) they decided to walk in said room.
I displayed the next room, a hallway with another square room at the end. Inside, 4 crudely drawn human figures lying on squares. One of the figures was a skeleton covered in red spider webs. The players right away started making speculations (that’s what I love about these guys, they make up half the stuff for me) about the bodies. The ranger, Laurius, decided to go first, moving silently inside. Being an half-elf, he can also see in the dark and benefit from the dark for a hide check.
He moved his character on the map and set it down right in the middle of the room, between four pillars. That’s when I had a good idea. I just said “Click” and right away Francis (playing Laurius) had a “you got me” look on his face as I tried to make up sounds for liquids being pumped – harder than I thougt.
The other two players looked at me with puzzled looks, might be because of the noise I was making.
Initiatives, people! The dead have been pumped full of an unknown liquid and thus have been re-animated! (I didn’t really say “thus”). In the dark you hear their movements as they get up, 3 stinking and decayed humans dressed in ancient ceremonial armor, equipped with spears and javelins. A golden amulet with a pulsing blue diamond is at their neck.
The adventurers disposed of their enemies pretty quickly. The monsters decided to attack with their javelins for their first round and the Dwarf Fighter, Poraxion, had the good reflex of moving in between them and the ranger when he could. One of the zombies got stuck in red spiderweb and was attacked by the spiderswarms.
After the battle the party gathered enough information (with extensive questions and rolls, we LOVE rolling) to gather that the room was an ancient barracks. Time has long rotted the remaining weapons but Gan the Wizard took the time to take an amulet from the corpses. He is obsessed with gems, you see. His player, Marc started thinking aloud about the temple structure. “It’s probably the kitchens next, or the toilets, something like that!”
This time they did not roll for traps but simply opened the door and I unveiled the next room.
A circular one with in the middle a skull drawn in a circle (it was supposed to look like it was displayed).
“Oh fuck. I don’t like this one!” said the Dwarf.
The other two of the group replied with equally stressed sentences as I grinned behind my laptop and looked at my notes.
“What’s this? What do we see?” asked the worried Wizard. Marc loves details and will use everything you give him.
I described the room as a circular, dome-ish room that had a sacred feel to it. From the looks of it this was a place of worship. In the center, on a stone pillar carved with scenes of worship rests a human skull with an eye patch on his right eye and a huge blue diamond nested in the empty socket of his left eye.
The Ranger decided to try a spot check at the ceiling and I reassured him that nothing was hidden but he did notice 3 piles of skeletons in the other side of the room.
“Ok, just making sure no giant spider comes down on us, you know, since we were attacked by BABY SPIDERS”
They investigated the 3 bodies at first to see that they had seemed to have died of combat – with each other.
Marc in a genius moment of role-playing (that I had counted on) all of a sudden said with enthusiasm “Ok! I KNOW this is going to be bad, but Gan Appalix the greedy Wizard MUST get this gem! Fuck it!” and off he went as the other players looked on with a look of anticipation.
He still did a spot check to detect any trap and having rolled pretty high I let him know that the eye patch had a bad look to it. Gan grabbed the diamond and Marc looked at me, wondering what was going to happen to his character. I let him know nothing bad happened. He just fell into my time-bomb trap, however. YES!
He decided to take a few steps back and use one of his spells to lift the eye-patch magically. Pretty impressive that he chose that spell to learn that day, too! A small cloud of black gas shooted out from the socket. A Knowledge Arcania roll revealed that it was a BLIND spell trap.
Marc and Francis, the two experienced players, looked at me in playful disbelief and explained to Seb that Marc just avoided something pretty dangerous as I read the description of being Blinded on DnD Wiki. Marc started laughing as I told him how funny it would be to have a blind character for ever.
The next room was a hallway that split in two with two rooms at the end. On the left the walls were lined with vines and there was an accessible door. Same thing on the right, but the vines were replaced by red spiderwebs.
(I should mention that in EVERY room since the beginning Marc has been burning the webs with his Dancing Light spell).
They all right away decided to avoid the side with the webs and the Fighter chose to tackle the door to have an element of surprise for whatever was happening on the other side. I took that into account.
I unveiled the last room of the night: a rectangular room full of vines, with 4 church benches in the center. At the other side, an altar with an open book drawn on it. at the foot of the altar was a semi-circle pool full of dark water and on the sides two bowls that were full of blood. Above it were red spiderwebs still dripping blood.
At the top of the altar, reading the book, was a human so old only a few white hair were left on his head and chin, reading from the book.
“Necromancer!” cried the Ranger. “He’s casting a spell!” said the Wizard. “Fuck!” Said the Fighter. The other players entered the room and urged Laurus to shoot arrows at him.
I let him have a free shot as an element of surprise and then threw for initiative. He got a shot in, an arrow lodged herself in the evil old wizard’s chest but he kept on reading. He spent his whole turn reading from the book in fact, more rapidly.
The fighter moved in as fast as he could towards the altar. Good thing we forgot to tell him about the Running rule or the wizard would have met an even faster death.
The wizard positioned himself at the back of the room behind the fighter and the ranger. I guess he wanted to see what was going to happen.
The ranger continued to rain down arrows on the wizard but missed and the evil man finally finished to cast his spell. Out of the pool of stinky dark water emerged 3 forms: the evil, zombified versions of the players’s characters from game #2. I took into account that they were of a lower level when the spiderswarm -who actually gathered the blood for the wizard in game 2 – attacked the party.
An intense battle ensued. The wizard was quickly killed by arrows and acid splashes and the players were somewhat hoping that this would also stop the other 3 monsters from attacking. At this point they seemed to realise that it wasn’t going to be as easy a fight as the previous stuff. I love messing with their heads!
The evil Fighter attacked his good self’s wooden heavy shield with two-handed hits and in 2 turns it burst into splinters. The evil ranger positioned himself atop the altar and alternatively shot at the fighter and the wizard – who had cast mirror image.
The evil wizard was the first to go down. At the same time, the good wizard started losing control of his will (failing willpower checks) and started attacking his companions! It was actually the diamond from the skull that was casting Confusion spell on his carrier when the necromancer died. “It’s the wizard’s soul! It’s in the diamond!” yelled the ranger. Thanks for the idea, Francis!
The good ranger was keeping his distances and soon ran out of arrows but started using magical arrows that he had found in a previous game. The fighter soon fell to the savage blows of an axe, the deep wounds of arrows and the searing pain of acid (from his friend). He fell to a critical hit from a Dwarven Axe (and I always give max damage to critical hits) that would have put him in the -20s but it was Seb, it’s his first campaign, and heroes are heroes so I decided to put him at -7 since he was 3rd level.
After a lenghty discussion in which the ranger pointed out that now the necromancer’s book on the altar could be used by the wizard (totally did NOT foresee that when I drew the detail on the paper) and I explained to Seb how his character could stabilize (“Imposibble” was his remark") the ranger realised that he was the only trained in Heal and on the third turn reached the mangled body of the dwarf.
I almost forgot to mention another epic moment of the game.
As I am describing how the dwarf is falling to his knees and then to his back, Marc goes “Where’s the monkey?”
“The fighter was carrying it”
“It’s in a bag on his back I think you said. It’s slowly being crushed by the weight of the heavy armor” (me).
“Can… Can the monkey help? Can he fetch a potion? Can he fight?”
“Seb, I don’t want you to just sit and do nothing for the rest of the game because that’s boring, so you can control the Orang-Wutang”.
“Ok. He attacks my killer. Fuck it. YOLO”.
“As you lay dying and see the light at the end of the tunnel… Hey guys, did you see that meme that says What if the light you see at the end of the tunnel is the same one you see as you come out of your mother’s vagina? So… if he gets stabilized right now, it means he won’t go into the light, right? So, does that mean that somewhere right now a baby will be stillborn? Don’t save him! You’re going to ruin that mother’s day!”
“You’re fucking sick dude”.
“So. As you lay dying through a haze you see the monkey leaping over your body to land on your evil self and claw away at his face”.
“Nice. Is the prick dead?”
“Yeah but so is the monkey”
Let me say that the heal check was one of the most intense moments that has happened for our group so far. Francis calmly looked at his skills. Calculated.
“I need a 10”.
Me and Marc started celebrating. Ooooooooooh! Fuck yeah! Looks like you live to fight another day, Seb!
“But like, you’re still at -7 right now. You can’t do anything.”
After that the battle was quickly ended and the ranger took the time to spit on his evil self, then administered the flask of blueish gooey vine juice to the fighter, explaining in details how he would do it, kind of how you give pills to a cat or dog in real life. We all laughed so I had the fighter regain consciousness and go back to 1 HP.
The game ended with the wizard throwing a successful willpower check and realising that it was the diamond that was controlling him. He put on the necromancer’s amulet as a test and found that it was an Amulet of Sustenance but the magic of the two items was cancelling each other out for the moment.
That’s also why the necromancer was so old and frail, he was actually the surviving priest of the temple, his honour guard having passed away a long time ago and then used as zombies by him.
We had a blast!
And yes, I always reward imagination and a good laugh.