DDC – Pack Tactics

Sunday’s game picked up in the morning after the fight with the werewolves and saw the first of many debates about what to do about those cursed with lycanthropy. The two dwarves captured the previous evening turned down accompanying the group, and instead volunteered to go to a nearby trader and pay to be locked in the cellar for the next few nights. They said that they would do this so that they could not bring harm to anyone. They didn’t want to run the risk of turning in the middle of a fight and making things worse. Reluctantly the group agreed and saw them off in the right direction before carrying on up into the mountains. They knew that as long as they followed the river it would broadly take them in the right direction.

Thorin recalled that there was a guard post at Renald’s Creek, about an hour shy of the Amberhammer Hold. Set among the remains of a gargantuan fallen statue known as the Old Titan, it had previously been the site of a fierce battle between militia and trolls in the Last War, and a presence had been kept there ever since. When they got there however, they found the guards and a group of merchants had been slain recently – the tower breached by powerful claws.

As they investigated, they noticed activity in the water below the bridge and saw the remains of several trolls recombining and growing into one huge monstrosity that in swift motion climbed the bank and strode among them. A fierce battle quickly began as the dire troll flailed its many limbs and nearly killed Kerne and Caeluma. Kerne’s potent magics and Caeluma’s trickery allowed the group to stop the creature long enough to put it down – but they were all battered by the end of it.

The group realised that the promised haven of the Hold was unlikely to be friendly, so they decided to pause to patch their wounds and re-fortify the guard tower. This led to new conversations about the nature of lycanthropy and whether Caeluma would be a threat. In turn this led to the revelation that Valenia had also been infected, and the two nascent werewolves discussed privately what they were going to do. They opted for honesty, and volunteered to be separated for the evening and secured to the best of the group’s ability while the remaining adventurers prepared to defend the tower.

Valenia and Kerne talked at length about the legends of werewolves from their lore – bearing in mind that they were supposed to have been wiped out by the Silver Flame some 200 years ago. Neither knew of a sure-fire way to end the curse but did recall legends that if the original werewolf was slain or cured that the curse would be lifted from all who had been afflicted. They debated that this might mean that Thorin’s sister was the origin of this new plague and what decisions this might lead the group to face.

Caeluma and Thorin also talked at length, with Caeluma extracting promises from him that he would look after everyone and would let Coal know how much they loved him. They also asked Thorin to let Arwan know that Caeluma considered them a better cleric than them. Thorin refused to countenance talk of death and loss, insisting that they would all come through this and put all things right.

Arwan dismissed the praise when told, saying that there was no measure of being “better” in such matters – each had gifts and aptitudes the other did not. Thorin privately shared with Kerne and Arwan that he had already considered that he may have to kill his sister and made his peace with that if it became necessary to save his people. On that somber note, they reinforced the barricades, and waited for the moons to rise.

Wednesday Game

It’s been a hectic week but we did get the Wednesday Librarian game in – picking up from where we left them in a grimy hole in the wall bar with their new friends.

The gang didn’t have a name or anything like that, but drinks were consumed before they headed off out. The two kenku accompanying them were a great source of interest as the players worked out how to communicate with creatures who could only mimic other sounds.

They did at least confirm that the apprentices they were looking for worked in The Mortuary which was next door. There seemed to be some mirth around this that wasn’t explained. Half the party were by now drunk – specifically those specialising in lock picking – and so attempts to gain entry took a little longer. This provided a great deal of entertainment for the locals, who seemed unconcerned by all this activity.

Eventually, by various means, they broke in to the locked up building to find that it was in fact a book depository full of jumbled shelves and stacks of old newspapers. A cursed book of tongue twisters left Xander the artificer literally tongue tied until Wilhem lifted the enchantment. It was carefully stowed away as the group found a trapdoor.

This in turn led to a deeper cellar carved into the bedrock that featured a wide set of magical runes, the two apprentices, and the animated objects that they had just been about to make fight. On spotting the group, they directed their creations to attack and tried to make a run for it. The potted shrub was slow but moved to block the group, while the broom flew quickly and aggressively.

And that was the cliffhanger we ended on.

Eberron Draconic Prophecies

We’ve not played this evening as my stomach has decided that today would be a good day to play up – so instead here’s some unused Draconic Prophecy snippets I made up as ancillary things to make the players go ‘ooooh’ and as some world building.

Some context: in the game world of Eberron there is a complex prophecy that touches on all sorts of things that is researched and debated by the dragons of that world and acts in-game as a mcguffin to explain or prompt whatever portentous things the GM wants to have happen – or in other words a nice motivation for dragons or their followers or opponents to get out and cause mischief as needed in the story. Its deliberately left vague for the GMs pleasure.

I decided to write a few verses that could be dropped into the game, or possibly discovered in some dusty tome as the players research things – but they’ve shown a marked tendency in the Sunday game to be entities of action rather than of research, so I may never get a chance to crowbar them in. There is the faint chance that the players will read this and then try their best not to metagame (and good luck to them if so)

So – here are three that should ring bells for anyone who’s been following the game recently:

The inter-twining god serpents’ lights follow the lightning and make slumbering prophecies hatch golden wings. Even madness’ sting deters not the seekers and the passage of the Heir

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 532, chapter 4, verses 32-33

This refers to the dance of the coatls that accompanied the lightning rail train that the characters rode on as they left Windhaven on their way back to see Thorin’s unwell father. The slumbering prophecies and wings verse is about the vision where Caeluma rejected their bloodline’s demonic patron and sacrificed themself to protect their family – being rewarded with golden wings by their celestial patron as a change to their tiefling features. The sting refers to the assassins sent by one of the factions involved in the underlying conflict they are stepping into

The Seeker of the Mark risks all in the face of the fiercest winter – risking EverIce for the sake of a lost sibling. The Forgotten Mark but slumbers even as lights throng in display

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 1042, chapter 2, verses 4-5

Kerne has a long-standing interest in rediscovering the lost Dragonmark of Death. They’ve heard that it was something to do with the creation of her people – the dragonborn – and wants to get to the bottom of it, mostly because they enjoy the academic discovery involved. Kerne’s adventures have brought them into contact with The Winter’s Knight – a being of the Feywild/Thelanis that seems to have become the patron of Kerne’s long-lost sister and have driven that sister to studying with Hags. EverIce is an arctic region in Eberron that may or may not have ties to Thelanis or lost civilisations. The Forgotten Mark is the Dragonmark of Death, which is currently completely suppressed by the elves of Aerenal. Kerne discovered a statue that depicts what she thinks may be the Mark. It is currently on loan to the University of Wynarn in Aundair.

Golden wings and divided bow, Amber hammer, scale, and guardian low. The wolves fall back. The shadows smile, and Xoriat watches and waits. The Triumphant Dead numbers lack, yet gather by the mile. A favour for a favour links gates

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 538, chapter 5, verses 1-5

This is fairly simple in that it identifies everyone currently active in the DDC. The wolves is a reference to the werewolves they just defeated on their way to the Amberhammer Holdings west of Cragwar. Smiling shadows and Xoriat is a vague description of the forces arrayed against them. The Triumphant Dead is a faction that has been encountered once in the recent past working with the Emerald Claw when Coal was used as a power source to reactivate a Warforged Titan in the slums of Windhaven. As the prophecy says, they are small in number but seem to be travelling and gathering allies perhaps. The favour for a favour would be an outright spoiler at this point – watch this space.

So there you have it – three obscure statements that can be read in all sorts of ways and that will certainly get people thinking in the campaign and referring back. I may make a habit of these to drop between sessions as a stinger. That appeals to me and I think it will keep people busy – what do you think?

Wednesday D&D Session One

And this will be the one where I suddenly remember five minutes in that i haven’t actually exported the expected map and uploaded and configured it and proceed to do this in the background.

Its also the session where the simple “go here, hit this person, and return with the stolen item” mission became a huge and convoluted conspiracy theory necessitating the on-the-fly generation of a dozen semi-fleshed out NPCs, including four high levels wizards and a street gang who the group talked into not trying to mug them and instead took them down the pub.

It’s also the game that was utterly derailed by a wizard with the name Thunderstaff, how he was a big noise in the community, and frankly everyone was desperate to get their hands on him. That’s about as PG as I can make that conversation.

Welcome to a new Eberron campaign where the players are mostly librarians, with a rogue teacher, and a couple of the polycule for good measure. There are two rogues, two gothic elf death priests, and an artificer with amnesia who’s a little bit bemused by it all.

We had great fun. I have no idea where we’re going to end up.

Howling At The Moons

An amazing session of D&D this evening. We’re all quietly buzzed afterward, and a lot of chatter and gossip filled the chat channel after the stream.

The whole thing picked up where we left off last time. We had the group facing off against a pack of werewolves on the way to Thorin’s homeland under the orange light of one of the twelve moons. Battle was soon joined, and at first seemed to be going well. Thorin held the bridge, raging and striking at anything trying to pass. The rest of the group began to tackle anything that got past him. And then Thorin killed the first werewolf and as it fell it reverted to its original form – a dwarf wearing the tattered remains of clothing in Thorin’s clan colours.

You could have heard a pin drop. And in that moment Caeluma and Valenia were bitten. As another werewolf fell and reverted, Caeluma was bitten again, and in the stress of the battle turned into a werewolf too.

Well, if there was stress and shock before, it was doubled now. Thorin was bitten as well and the group tried to switch to non-lethal subduing efforts to end the battle. Kerne used a charm monster spell to stop Caeluma and calm them and eventually the group was able to subdue two of the original werewolves and knock them out.

The group hurriedly retreated into the shelter of the forest away from the moonlight as Caeluma reverted to their true self with little memory of what had happened. As their captives regained consciousness and lucidity in their original dwarvish forms they began to reveal what had happened.

According to their captives, Thorins father was indeed ill. Thorin’s sister had returned to the Hold with deep mining dwarves who brought news of a cure and they were welcomed in. Overnight however, Hold fell to creatures from below, the night full of teeth and eyes, and Thorin’s sister was revealed as a werewolf who began to infect prisoners with her bite, releasing them into the night to spread chaos and madness across the mountains. The Hold now lies full of death and madness, but no one knows the final fate of Thorin’s family.

And that is where we ended the session…

Another D&D Group?

I’ve just finished part two of a Session Zero D&D game with some colleagues from work and it looks like it’s going to be a very different style of game. Everyone has played to some degree before but not all in an online way so there’s a familiar enough learning curve – but I think it’s going to be an interesting counterpoint to the Sunday game.

In this game the players work for Morgrave University Library. Yep, you guessed it – Librarian-based shenanigans involving the retrieval and acquisition of rare books and the punishment of those stealing or damaging stock are incoming…

We’re calling the adventure: Don’t Annoy The Librarians

Well, what’s the worst that could happen?

Cragwar

The Sunday game saw the DDC completing its trip between Marketplace and the dour fortress city known as Cragwar. It nestles in a cleft in the mountains, dominated by brutal fortifications – most notably the thick North to South running curtain walls that could be seen from miles away.

There was no doubt that they had now crossed the border into Breland. The traces of the Last War were still being patched, and there was a grey dourness quite at odds with the bright streets of Windhaven. Conversations were muted, as were many of the colours in common use in the streets. Still, as the main gateway to Breland, it was also a major trade hub.

Most of the population was a mix of humans and dwarves, with a sprinkling of goliaths and half orcs. Thorin recalled that historic battles had been fought against orc and goliath tribes in the mountains – so their presence even in small numbers bored well for peaceable encounters while they travelled.

Arrangements were made to stable their pack animal and cart for a couple of weeks, and ponies secured for the journey into the mountains. They were warned that the roads to the Amberhammer lands were not as widely travelled and certainly not as well maintained as what they had been using.

Of note as well was the presence outside the gates of a large body of armed soldiers and cavalry under the flag of The Silver Flame. The tension between the City Watch and the church knights seemed ready to boil over, so the DDC kept their head down and made haste to leave.

And so, into the mountains and up into chillier temperatures. The howls of wolves in the distance kept them company through the day and they made good time. As the sun set and the full moons rose they came to a wooden bridge that had been set to replace an older broken span. And that’s when they encountered the werewolves.

Considering werewolves are meant to be all but extinct in Khorvaire, this was a nasty surprise. Baying for blood, the werewolves closed on the group despite Thorin’s attempt to hold the bridge and the spells deployed to try and drive them away.

And that’s the cliffhanger we ended on…

DDC on the road

Sunday’s game saw the group on the road in a freshly-bought cart, using dinosaurs as mounts. After an extended journey in the lap of luxury, the minor aches and problems of living rough called for some creative thinking.

First and foremost among that was provisioning, but that was mostly solved with some creative use of the “Create Food and Water” spell, seasoned magically with the aid of a wonderous pouch that magically generates spices and seasonings.

It did lead to the coining of the phrase “holy tofu” to describe the divinely supplied foodstuffs…

Then the practicalities of setting watches meant some opportunities arose both for pranks and some world building.

Late night travellers included one of the steam-driven constructs hauling a merchant caravan owned by goblins, and a cheery wave saw them pass by the camp with no problems. That said, the first evening they were still within settled farmlands rather than the wilds. Travelling further took them past an old battlefield, and into true wilderness.

That’s when the gnoll raiders sprang their trap, and we ended on that cliffhanger.

Corridor Battle

The Sunday game was a pulse pounding battle in the narrow confines of a moving lightning rail train carriage. Assassins had landed on the roof in the night and attempted to separate the cars before focusing on Thorin. We’d left the previous week as a cliffhanger with Thorin and Valenia desperately fighting for their lives as the rest of the group roused from sleep.

This week saw Thorin fighting one on one with a skilled warrior, trading blows furiously while most of the rest of the group were held at bay by a warlock with an unearthly appearance – with tentacles and spikes instead of hair and slightly scaly skin. A detonated bead of force meanwhile had isolated Thorin from Valenia, who was in turn fighting a desperate battle with an orc assassin who was relentlessly beating her defences down.

The turning of the tide came with Kerne being able to concentrate and perform metamagic to extend the lightning of a witches bolt spell to both the warlock and the warrior fighting Thorin, just as the group’s newest member came crashing through a window. They’d climbed onto the roof, avoided the giant bats that the assassins had used as mounts, and made a supremely successful use of acrobatics to swing down between the attackers. As the group managed to finish off the opponents at that end of the carriage though, they could see Valenia fall beneath the blade of her opponent, joined by an assassin who had previously been kicked off the train.

The forcefield generated by the bead of force evaporated at that point, clearing a path for this newest assassin to press the attack on Thorin, while the first attempted and nearly succeeded in finishing off Valenia. It was only through a supreme feat of endurance that Valenia was able to retain consciousness and gulp down a healing potion they had bought before they left home. She barely evaded the attempt to finish her and was able to make a desperate shot with her bow as she lay on the floor to slay her opponent.

Thorin, utterly enraged at this point, was able to slay this new assassin with a fearsome display of prowess and as everyone stood, bloodied and exhausted we ended the session there.

Next week? Well who knows – at the very least some investigations in the aftermath…

Orcs on a Train

Despite the best efforts of the rain to knock out our Internet connection we spent this Father’s Day evening back in the world of Eberron for the further adventures of the DDC.

Our last session had seen dreams and prophecy mix with nightmares and a redemptive struggle that ended with Caeluma losing some of their infernal heritage and instead growing feathered wings.

By contrast this week saw a brief couple of hours layover at the Lightning Rail station at Passage, where Valenia got lucky and Thorin was discretely quizzed by an Inquisitor from the Silver Flame about the whereabouts of Thorin’s sister and any recent contacts.

And then the journey continued uneventfully for a couple more days. On the second night, a group of assassins landed on the roof of one of the carriages and made their way in. They began trying to separate the front of the train from the rest of it, and seemed intent on isolating and killing Thorin.

The surprise attack was thwarted by Thorin and Valenia both being light sleepers. Thorin grabbed his axe and charged down the orcs leading the assault, while valenia tackled another and kicked them from the train before they could disconnect the carriages.

The rest of the group was roused by the sounds of conflict, and battle was joined. One of the orc assassins dropped a magical darkness in the train’s corridor and a brief but frenzied exchange of blows followed…

And that’s where we left the cliffhanger…