Game Night: Down By The Bay

It’s time to ask the age-old question: Is it still a trap if you knowingly spring it? Our fifth gaming session saw our plucky band of adventurers resume their quest to defeat the mysterious Drow that had taunted them, first as he was getting away with some hostages, and again after a trap failed to stop us

Planning small adventures to clear in one weekday evening session was becoming tiresome and I set out to plan a much larger story. It would certainly need two nights of gaming to finish this story and Act 1 as I saw it. 

The night of gaming started out with some task work: we settled into the town of Bringham and started the process of reinvigorating the town and building up the defenses. We used the value of some of the stolen goods and currency we liberated from the tower and the dead brigands that had taken it, and put it to good use. 

My Liberator, Daeneth, set up some guards at the new house the group had taken over, and started working to improve the town guard situation in between “worshiping” at the tavern. The Alchemist Arlo hired an assistant to sell some stuff in the city and to start searching for some alchemy recipes. Louise stalked about, as any good Rogue does, collecting rumors as she lurked in dark corners. Tibbs spent the day getting a potency rune attached to his new giant-sized axe as befitting a Barbarian and his lust to hit things. Then, we were off.

It was a day of travel on horseback from Bringham to Old Darthan Bay. The way was easy, almost too easy. They paused briefly at the top of the ridge overlooking the valley that held the bay. The group assumed that the trap would involve look-outs: since they were not going to get there unnoticed, they might as well ride-on in style.

Old Darthan Bay is the scene of an ancient naval battle, and up until a decade or so ago, an active port city. It now sits entirely abandoned by civilized people. It definitely wasn’t entirely abandoned, though. The group advanced towards the center of town after a successful warfare lore check, heading towards the central plaza, where the Maritime War Memorial stood. 

Sewer knowledge from Louise and my war lore gave us a few ideas. Turns out there were two ways into the crypt below the Memorial, either through the metal sewer grate that pours offal into the bay, or the crypt entry at the base of the memorial, under the enormous stone statue of a ship at war upon a stormy sea. The group chose the latter. It was likely far cleaner.. 

This is how they found the grid, what they could see if they came in through the sewer on the right or the boring stairs on the bottom…

Regardless of the way they chose to enter the crypt, they were going to be attacked. As they closed in on the entryway, Kobolds came running out of alleys and gray-skinned dwarves from the underworld were hanging out on top of the roofs, throwing grenades. They didn’t put up much of a fight and the team moved inside. 

They descended down a stairway, and as their eyes adjusted to the dark room inside, they found themselves in a half-sewer half-shrine-dungeon of sorts. Turns out the sewer entry would have led to the same room, but they got to enter the shrine with dry clothes. 

The scene before them was a repeat of the past; they found Kobolds fighting off sewer oozes. As before, the group watched them fight, well, for a bit, but the silly barbarian couldn’t hold it together: he ran in and joined the fight. 

Kera’s rogue was distracted by a locked door. She flexed her skills and unlocked the door. Everyone failed their perception check just as Ryan got a little over-excited: as he ran through the door, he stumbled directly into a gelatinous cube. Like, literally, right into it. Lucky for Ryan’s alchemist, the barbarian was there to pull the alchemist out before he got digested by the transparent ooze. 

While the others were occupied with a quivering block of angry ooze, my Liberator found the secret door into the armory. Within was a bunch of old, rusty weapons, and in the center of the room was a dead sailor of some sort. The Draugr was dripping sea water as it stood up from its place of its everlasting watch and fought our adventurers. The Draugr wasn’t too hard on his own and on a second look they found some useful stuff. namely, some magic arrows, potions and a couple trinkets. The regular weapons and armor were all a waste. 

behind the totally secret and no obvious secret wall was a dead water logged pirate that wanted to fight and a bunch of rusty gear

Feeling a bit more hesitant, the adventuring party spent some time being careful. Kera’s Rogue snuck around a bit and hunkered down next to another locked door. Assuming the good stuff was behind the locked door, they did not explore past the darkened hallway next to the door. Turns out they missed a big part of the crypt, where the sleeping quarters, and offices were. Silly adventurers. You missed out on some loot. 

You wanna know what they didn’t miss out on? The big fight.

After unlocking the door and getting hit by an arrow trap, Louise decided the correct spot was the back of the group as they advanced. My Liberator and Nate’s Barbarian led the way, and we wound through a hallway that cut back and forth eventually leading to what appeared to be a chamber. Kera volunteered, after a little cajoling, to move her Louise up and see what was going on. For some reason, she had her Rogue sneak across the entryway. She got a good look, but didn’t sneak back as well as she would have hoped. 

Quickly the party found itself in a two-stage fight. Several varieties of Skeletons lined the walls standing in attention like statues. Upon Kera failing a stealth check, they started scraping forward, as did the Draugr in the first chamber. 

I like setting up a fight in two stages for two big reasons. First, it allows me to control the flow of combat. If it turns out to be too tough I can hold back, or engage sooner if Nate rolls hot and his Barbarian 1-hits every fuckin baddy he stops at. For this fight, it was tough, as they had not prepared multiple types of weapon damage yet: they were equipped with limited bludgeoning weapons. Also, I nearly crushed a few of them (and did crush a few skeletons to help out) when a stone slab came crashing down to block the way they had come no choice but to fight on.

The damage resistance turned out to be a little much for them, and dragged the fight out longer than expected, leaving more opportunities for taking damage and burning through more consumables than expected. Daeneth had to make a couple combat medic checks, which luckily my Liberator is skilled and equipped for, and used his ‘lay-on hands’ to cause damage instead. 

The eraser, I mean, stone slab came down and locked us in the two-part boss fight

Barely surviving the first stage, they didn’t even get a chance to catch their breath before being attacked by the Draugr with upgraded stats and the big naval axe and his two bodyguard skellies. The Draugr kicked open the barred door that separated the compartments. He made a disgusting, angry sounding gurgling noise at the party, and the walls began to weep salt water. 

My Liberator tanked, the Barbarian got angry and went full DPS and the rogue and alchemist contributed missile weapons; eventually, it went down. Defeating it used Nate’s once a game ability to stave off the first death and a few hero points to keep others alive, but we came through with far more bruises than we would have liked. We patched up as best we could, spent a few minutes on first aid and restored my healing touch before we set off again.

With only one way forward we start to wind through the exit hallway after rifling through the pockets of the soggy corpses. Surprise, most of the team fails their check and falls asleep from a dart trap. All but the barbarian Tibbs. Nate thought he was pretty badass, until he saw the Drow through the arrow slit in the wall, and then more Drow. Tibbs got filled with enough sleep bolts to make a Tarasque nap. He collapsed like the half-orc drama queen he is amongst the sleeping pile of his party members. Good night, good sir.

The end. For now. We packed it up there for the night and they wouldn’t know the fates of the characters for a couple weeks. Fortune is shining upon you, as you only need to keep scrolling.

Escape From Surprise Nap Time

In between play sessions, I told the group that I would like them to make secondary characters. In the next stage of the game there would be a perfect opportunity to introduce some alts; either to adjust the story or replace dead characters. 

When they awoke, our party found itself in a large jail cell. Other cells were occupied with some peasant captives and, surprisingly, their alternate characters: What a crazy random happenstance!

Using to make our lives easier, especially since I left them in a jail cell, with no gear and little hope

We each described our new characters: I introduced an elf ranger named Saaito and his muzzled wolf companion named Brecki, as well as Sheridon Dragonbreak, a sorcerer in fine clothes with burnt edges, crazy red hair and some fashionable goggles. 

Kera created a human warrior named Franki, Ryan created Adahn the Thaumaturge and Nate created a dwarf fighter named Ralkin. All martial classes except for the sorcerer. It’s like they knew we were ganna get into another fight. 

Shortly after waking, checking out their surroundings and determining they were locked up well and good, they received some visitors. The Drow they had met in the cistern that challenged them earlier in the campaign entered alongside an entirely terrible creature. The thing was as evil as could be, and appeared to be a mass of phlegmy tentacles bound together with a soiled clock laid over it. A few failed saves later, half of the party threw up from equal parts terror and disgust. The Drow spoke to the pulsating, writhing tentacle monster, and then they walked out. Leaving a few Kobolds to guard the doors and a Drow Jailor. They didn’t get his name, but he did tell them that they were going to be fed to that thing as payment for fucking up the plans they had in play: seemed only reasonable. 

After a couple failed attempts to escape, they managed to piss off the guard: Arlo said some bad things about the Drow’s mother and told him that eventually the nasty thing was going to eat him, too. The guard failed a check and ended up coming too close to the jail cell to strike Arlo. Tibbs grabbed him and Louise lifted his keys. With Tibbs still crushing the jailor against the bars, Kera had her Rogue open the cell. Daeneth took a mace off the guard and used it to fight the Kobolds, which failed a check to see if they were smart enough to run and raise the alarm and instead got themselves killed as the team passed the liberated weapons back and forth. Arlo also freed the wolf, which helped quite a bit: Brecki quickly became the MVP of the game. 

They freed the other captives, armed them with the weapons they got off the newly made corpses and succeeded in arming themselves with their stored gear without alerting the room full of bad guys around the end of the hallway. I had planned to make the fight tougher if they didn’t manage to keep quiet, and I would determine much later that had enacted my plan for being noisy, they certainly wouldn’t have made it out of the mission alive. As it was, they barely lived to continue their adventuring career. 

we got out of the jail, got our gear back and found ourselves in a warehouse full of bad guys and booty

It was to be a tough fight, even playing two characters each. Not due to the difficulty of the enemies encountered, for the most part, but because of the large number of adversaries in the final dock fight. When our double-sized party of adventurers advanced out into the loading dock, they discovered quite the scene: There was a ship being loaded. There were many crates of various sizes making for convenient cover options. There were many Kobolds and Hobgoblins, plus a handful of Drow. 

More importantly, the Drow that had taunted them about their demise was there, along with a big bastard in the blackest of black spiked plate-mail that seemed to eat up all the torchlight in the room, and the nasty tentacle fucker that was supposed to eat them. These bastards slowly made their way to the ship while we fought our way through the guards and dock-worker kobolds. We didn’t get to them in time and they boarded the ship, but not before the disturbing, otherworldly monster in the dirty cloak summoned an additional tentacle monster through a tear in reality.

The blinding un-light and crack in air highlighted the arrival of the extra-planar beast and the team was in for it. Just being in the area made everyone sick. We managed to finally end that pesky Drow, which they never really got a name for, and took a very nice Dragon icon off his corpse. Then the beast got in their way. 

While the team was busy fighting the gross thing from another reality, an elemental of water reared up out of the water and dragged the ship up stream, allowing the leaders of the three enemy factions to escape. 

Floating over from where it broke into our reality towards our characters, the beast appeared to be a collection of disturbing tentacles all emanating from a single point with no body or head. IT released a mental shockwave attack, which caused damage to everyone around it, froze those that failed their fortitude save and made everyone sick. It nearly killed my Liberator in one multi-appendage attack, which was exacerbated by the fact that my shield had been ruined earlier. It took a lot of damage to take it down since it had damage resistance and only a few attacks from Nate’s barbarian caused enough damage to dispel it back to whence it came.

The party had lived. The rest of the captives (that hadn’t been eaten already) were saved. The new adventurers and the survivors were moved to Bringham, along with carting back a bunch of stolen goods and coinage over the span of a week or so. This we set about using to hire and train more guards and start building defenses for the town we were gradually taking over. 

Because not only did the defeat of that Drow fucker not solve our problem, we made new enemies. This is the kind of end I like in a game. One story closed and many more opened. We had defeated a Hobgoblin Warlord, but that was just the tip of the iceberg so to say. The dark warrior in the unreal black plate mail was going to be a problem, too. Yet neither of these new threats were anything compared to the otherworldly abomination that the others were doing business with. And on top of that, they still had the Lord Brigand and his coterie of thieves and highwaymen to contend with. 

The group would have to wait until the next session to see where this was all going.

Light Up The Night Sky

There were two things I needed after the fight at the dock within the shrine turned sewer prison from the previous two game nights: I needed a way to end Act One and properly set up for Act Two. The group needed some time for some upkeep.

The game session, the third in this story (and this article for that matter) started off with Saaito thanking the party for getting him out of the sticky situation he was in, but mentioned that he had been taken near the town of Coldbrook, which he called home, and needed to make sure it was safe. 

As a whole, we did a lot of bookkeeping. Gold was distributed to feed and defend the town we had set up shop within. Guards were hired. Guard towers were planned, and work started. These would inevitably be connected with a defensible wall. The watchtower, which had recently been cleared of thieves and murders, was fixed up and garrisoned. 

Weapon and armor runes were attached. Gear and information was acquired. Plans were made. Time was spent on character specific needs. Yet there was no way I was going to leave the whole game session to glorified errands.

In the middle of an afternoon after a few more days had passed, a guard caught a glimpse of a lone figure approaching the town rapidly. Turns out it was Saaito, and he had run himself nearly to death to get to Bringham. Collapsing to the ground, he managed to tell us that Coldbrook was under attack and needed our help. 

Oh, and he thought there might be an attack coming for us not far behind him. 

All of our characters spent the following day alternating between sleeping, preparing for a fight and keeping watch. Plans were made. Actions were taken. 

In preparation, I had only decided a few things, based on a few general decisions I figured the other players would make: most importantly, how we decided to deploy our adventurers. We had the luxury of two characters each. I had assumed that the plan would revolve around “a good offense is the best defense” and so I had set a few plans in place based on whether we sent out one, two or no forward teams to meet the potential oncoming threat. 

I was right. I mean, Nate’s Barbarian is only interested in one thing: hitting things with a large axe. I was getting used to planning for that.

Our original party set off to lay in wait, setting up an ambush of such. Our new party waited, ultimately deciding to wait in the town instead of the watchtower, which was already manned. 

At some point the idea of setting up a fake campsite was brought up, then set up, with Tibbs waiting as bait within a tent, as Nate suggested his half-orc would want. He made good on the hiding spot, as a group of goblin commandos moved into the camp. We cleared them out quite easily, but they quickly discovered that this was not the main event. 

the blank card (we use wet erase markers frequently, like our initiative on the left) is the tent that Tibbs hid within to spring the trap

From their mountain campsite, they discovered their new home of Bringham was on fire. Before the game, I had planned out the consequences of their decisions to guard the town or not: good thing they had left a group of adventurers behind, or they would have made it back to burned husks of buildings and charcoal briquettes that used to be their townsfolk. 

Rushing back to the town, they found corpses littered about, both their guards and the goblinoid marauders. As they entered the town square, they witnessed a gory scene. He had killed a couple highwaymen, but as we got into view, a black armored warrior on horseback ran him through with a spectral blade: He died on the spot. 

Tibbs ran in heedless of any danger, followed by Arlo, Louise and Daeneth. Before we got into contact with the bastard that just killed one of our own, we were ambushed; brigands and killers leapt from concealment upon the burning buildings and the Tengu brother of the thief that almost killed Louise leapt out of nowhere to try to kill her. 

That night’s game was set to end the arc, and make sure the players were aware of the danger they were in. It worked. We ended Act One with an important fight: not big, and not really dangerous, but mentally disturbing. Once again, they had both failed and succeeded.  Although Bringham had been saved in the general sense, citizens were lost and homes destroyed, and confidence in their new benefactors had been equally wounded. 

The big bad guy went down so easy but the Tengu rogue avenging his brother put up quite the fight, funny how shit works out some times

The Knight in the blackest armor ever (no, not the one that got away on the ship, we’ll meet up with him later) failed with so many swings it was laughable. His horse was cut down to take away his height advantage and the healing effect of his armor that I had set him up with did him no good as they butchered him. Funny,  he was supposed to be the big bad of the game. The Tengu, on the other hand put up a hell of a fight, ducking, dodging, stabbing and causing mayhem. Eventually, he was also dispatched.

What do I have in store for Act Two? All I will say is “The Beast and the Blade”… Stay tuned for more.

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Obsessive and neurotic collector of little plastic men, novels about the same little plastic men and paints to make the little plastic men pretty. Married to Kera, who puts up with him and pretends that she doesn’t hear him speaking to the little plastic men in between making pew pew noises in the hobby room. Requires adult supervision. A menace to himself but rarely to others. More beard than man

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