Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Khan’s Report: Dark Pyramid of Sorcerer’s Isle

Tyranny of Dragons Storyline Season – Expedition 11: Dark Pyramid of Sorcerer’s Isle
[Heart of Platinum]
Khan (dwarf cleric), Lanza (elf bard), Sasha (human ranger), Septimus (tiefling warlock)

Previously: The City of Phlan has fallen captive to the Cult of the Dragon, led by the elder green dragon known as The Maimed Virulence. The heroes were forced to flee the city, and await the right time to take it back. But a pressing situation is laid before them, when the dark powers of a long forgotten pyramid threaten the landscape around Phlan…

Sooooooo, this is going to be the LEAST EPIC adventure log... ever!
The party was invited by "generic important NPCs" to investigate the origins of an act of corruption/defiling towards Nature. An ancient pyramid had been spilling a foul liquid into the river that serves the city of Phlan (DAMN YOU, MR. BURNS!!!), causing the fish, other animals, and plants to mutate into hideous things. Even more hideous than Septimus, our fellow tiefling...

Death by Sardines
The group travelled through the forest, encountering several abhorrent fauna and flora. Eventually, a raft was used to take the heroes to the pyramid’s island. That’s where our epicness began. The raft was attacked by tentacles, causing the warlock to fall overboard, whom was in turn attacked by a shoal of mutant sardines, going below zero hit points. The bard bended towards the water to catch the unconscious tiefling… and was also attacked by the sardines! Also becoming knocked-out! So, we have an unconscious tiefling floating in the water, with a bard grabbing his legs, who in turn is ALSO unconscious, with the ranger ALSO holding his legs, while half the party is getting its ass kicked… by sardines!
Yes, we are supposed to be the epic heroes of Phlan, saving the world from the Cult of the Dragon.

Death by Ale Mugs
We enter the pyramid, where several tests are presented to us (which I will not reveal, in order to avoid spoilers), and pass through several encounters and traps, finding out that the pyramid’s corridors and rooms are shifting and have some interdimensional weirdness occurring.
Perhaps now would be a good time to say that I ABSOLUTELY HATE DUNGEON CRAWLING! I mean, I hate it more than I hate elves! If it were up to me, this game would be called Dragons & Dragons.

At a given point in time & space we arrive at a room where a new totally epic scene awaits us. The room if full of… kitchen utensils. Ale mugs, an iron pot, a scale, and a couple of old armors. Praise Bahamut that they were animated armors, and not animated aprons! At least what followed can be a little less humiliating… Well, actually it can’t!
We were attacked by the aforementioned kitchen tools. I am supposed to be a heroic level five cleric of Bahamut, yet I find myself exchanging blows with two animated ale mugs, while my fellow comrades have their asses whooped by the same iron pot where Samwise Gamgee cooked rabbits for Frodo, and a pair of scales. Allow me to be 100% clear: when I say “scales” I’m not mentioning some sort of magical enhanced dragon scales. I’m mentioning the stuff you use to weigh PO-TA-TOES! Yes, the same potatoes that Sam wanted to cook the rabbits with.
The only good thing coming out of this encounter was having the imp killed by the cooking pot. It is impossible to have a more idiotic death in D&D. One can almost think about its tombstone: “Here lies Generic Evil Imp. Killed by a cooking pot. He will not be missed”

Death by George R R Martin
So, our D&D group (with D&D standing for Dumb & Dumber) continued its epic walk along the pyramid, until an encounter with a Red Wizard and his friends occurred. We managed to enter the room by surprise, and assaulted the fighter that was near the door. Then, out of nowhere, behind door number five, a wild Generic Red Wizard of Thay appears. Aaaaand, Ice Storm, Fireball, you’re all dead by A Song of Ice and Fire.
It ended up not being a TPK because… well, because the DM didn’t want to wait for us to roll new characters!
Thus, we were released by the ranger (who had missed the session), went after the Generic Red Wizard of Thay… and allowed him to flee the pyramid. Yes, that’s it. We suck so much that we couldn’t even kill the bad guy. When the DM asked us “But, aren’t you going to look for the Cult of the Dragon members that entered the pyramid?” we answered with a collective “Screw this shit, we’re going home!”

Death by Imp
The last (?) room of the pyramid (where we confronted the Generic Red Wizard of Thay), had a set of alien machinery operated by enthralled lizardmen, connected via pipes to an extradimensional breach from where the generic evil black goo was being fueled. With a lot of precision, expertise, and knowledge about engineering, we smashed everything to smithereens.
Was it over? Noooooo, because, meanwhile, the bloody imp had returned to life. The machines’ room was guarded by red slaad (evil frogs of Hell), which had several eggs (note: I wish autocorrect would stop correcting “slaad” to “salad”, because it would be awkward to have a room guarded by “red salad”… Well, in due honesty, in this quest in particular I guess it wouldn’t be that awkward.). My dwarf noticed Septimus, the tiefling warlock, attempting to steal one of the eggs. When I insisted that he returned it to be smashed-by-the-boot-of-the-dwarf, the bitchy imp attacked me from behind. After the final fight I was at 9 hp. I went to the floor…

If the mood between Khan and Septimus wasn’t good until now, one can imagine how it will be in the future… One thing is to have a good-aligned cleric trying to ignore a pestering, yet majorly harmless, imp. Another is to have that imp betray the party and attack one of its members when he is vulnerable.
One thing’s for sure: something will change, for worse, amid the party. But that is what you get when you mix a holy servitor of Bahamut, god of good dragons, and a servitor of Mephistopheles, archdevil of the nine hells…

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Check for Insanity / Roll for Madness

[Pendants of Tor-Logos]

Pathfinder RPG
Achaerbas, the chaotic wizard, returns do the capital to make a claim for the throne, exhibiting a show of force to support his intent. The PCs drive him away, and go to the imprisoned devil Kyros Vidar to try to discover the location of the captives. Meanwhile, with the death of the Agatarkion V, the kingdom is left without rulership. Can the PCs’ suggestion of a joint theocracy be the solution?

Barion (rogue), Bellerophon (paladin), Thorkron (cleric/wizard/mystic theurge)

When you spend a four hour session roleplaying:
- a chaotic-insane all powerful wizard riding a tsunami, followed by elder water elementals that carry ships on their shoulders;
- a chaotic-insane former PC cleric, devoted to the god of madness, unwilling to commune with his god because "the dice told him so";
- an arrogant commander that hates one of the PCs so much that he refuses to act with minimal logic, because the PC took his favorite toy;
- an imprisoned erinyes hit by a Geas that tries in every way to refuse to speak, twisting, growling, biting his tongue, and so on.

You know two things:
1st: You must schedule an appointment with a  psychiatrist to check your sanity.
2nd: You're having a great time playing D&D!

I'm risking becoming a more efficient kingslayer than Jaime Lannister, since I've already killed two kings in the present campaign (as DM).
The all-mighty-crazy-magician returns to the city riding a tsunami, followed by a mythological gargantuan sea monster (Charybdis), and two elder water elementals carrying ships over their shoulders. He starts speaking to the populace, announcing that he has blood bonds to the former kings. Now try to imagine doing this epic speech with the three PCs trying to hit him while charging on a pegasus, with a magical spear, throwing all sort of spells against him, or trying to backstab him with daggers containing Touch of Idiocy!!!!
If the PCs seem edgy... maybe it's the DM's fault given the amount of EVERYTHING AND THEN SOME MORE that seems to hit them simultaneously. Never a dull day in the kingdom!
Following that encounter we had another one that made us laugh to tears, but at the same time made me hate even more the spell system of D&D (3.5/Pathfinder for reference).
So, a lot of important people have been disappearing, captured by devils, and taken to an unknown place. One of the devils (an erinyes) was captured, and the PCs decided to question him. He proposed a deal: he was willing to share the information if he was freed from captivity and given some land to claim as his own where he would be left in peace. The players wrinkled their noses, twisted in the chair, and grumbled, and for some reason did not embrace this generous offering from the DM (I wonder why...).
That's when high level magic enters play. The mage/cleric/mystic theurge/generic-guy-that-makes-the-DM-curse-every-spell-in-the-game, which is for some reason the most hated man in the kingdom (and beyond it), provokes an intense debate around the possibilities of the Geas spell. While I believe the spell to work only in the way that you can order a specific ACTION to be performed by the target, the bastard twisted the phrasing of the spell defending that "ordering the guy to tell us all that he knows is an action".
Since I am a very generous DM (and the campaign is nearing its end), I decided to give him a free pass.
Nonetheless, I made them fight for every answer, using all possible evasive actions, from speaking Infernal, to mumbling and gabbling, even having the devil rip its tongue so that he couldn't speak. When they presented him with a map and said "point where they are being held", I just couldn't stop laughing and had the devil bite his fingers off!!!!!
Eventually they discovered everything needed to get to the desired location, but I couldn't help but regret that the impact of high level magic is such in the game, that it shuts down roleplay. Why use diplomacy, negotiation, intimidation, or search for info in any "roleplayesque" way, when you can simply use spells that pinpoint the location of what you want to find? Or supply divine answers that solve any doubt?

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Death and Rebirth

[Pendants of Tor-Logos]

Pathfinder RPG
Following the deaths of Bellerophon and Taurus, the combat continues in order to kill Agnes, the succubus, carrying the child of Taurus McKymera whose birth will breach the Planes and allow an army of demons to enter Chimaera Island. After the combat, the Archangel Efialtes brings the paladin back to life. But the heroes of Agatarkion's Kingdom are now faced with the forced exodus from the lands of the Great Druid...

Barion (rogue), Bellerophon (paladin), Thorkron (cleric/wizard/mystic theurge)

The fight with the succubus and Taurus was supposed to be "just a tough fight". The expected outcome would be to have both the succubus and Taurus killed (eventually captured alive, as a courtesy to his cousin, Claudius). But along the way our brave paladin fell, and the succubus was still waiting to be dealt with.
The easy and normal outcome? Kill the succubus.
My players’ outcome? Leave her alive and have her miscarry.
Thorkron’s player called me aside in the middle of the combat and whispered: “Hey, Bestow Curse allows the caster to create his own curse... Can I simply touch the succubus and provoke an immediate abortion?”
I love my players. They always beat me in degrees of evilness.

The campaign is drawing to its conclusion. Will Barion, Bellerophon and Thorkron be able to:
- prevent Queen Hybris' plan to Trap the Soul the 10 most powerful sons of Tyrian Murex;
- guarantee that Thorkron becomes the first mortal to do 8th level arcane magic;
- stop the draconic invasion already underway;
- defeat the powerful dragons Isospora and Ascaris;
- stop the war with the dwarves of Tor-Logos;
- guarantee that the kingdom will have a steady rule after all the recent events;
- define the kingdom's role and relations with all its powerful neighbors;
- survive the gazillion thunderstorms that the DM will still unleash upon them?

Sometimes I wonder if I don't bombard my players with too many plot branches. I have a big phobia to railroading, so I'm continuously opening new paths and possibilities that sprang by each of the PCs' actions
For now, something major has been achieved: the balor Kelsier's intention of entering the realm with a demon army has been stopped. But in doing so, a vengeful succubus has been left on the loose, and who knows what can come out of this...

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Khan’s Report: Tyranny in Phlan – Part 2

Tyranny of Dragons Storyline Season – Expedition 10: Tyranny in Phlan
[Heart of Platinum]
Khan (dwarf cleric), Lanza (elf bard), Sasha (human ranger), Septimus (tiefling warlock)

Previously: The city of Phlan fell victim to a sudden attack from the Cult of the Dragon, led by the impressive green dragon known as Maimed Virulence. Amidst the chaos, the four “not-exactly-heroes” of Phlan ready themselves to storm the Castle, while their brave ally, Lieutenant Aelid, prepares a diversion.

Ecce Deo!
Lieutenant Aelid died a horrible death in front of the gates. Period. And that’s just it. This is how I inform the world of the death of the only non-chaotic-evil NPC in the campaign. The only NPC which I didn’t have an immediate urge to “Hammer to Fall”. Alas! That is life as a D&D player. Everything dies around yourself. Sometimes you die yourself. And then come back to life. And then die again. And then come back to life again. And that is the meaning of life.
IN D&D!!!!! Kids, do not try this at home!!!!
Stonejaw Gate closes behind the heroes. Countless "true" guards are tied in courtyard. Actually, this information in inaccurate, since the DM told us that there were EXACTLY 124 guards in chains. The berserkers from the Cult of the Dragon focused on us. Swords were drawn... And Septimus disappears after one of the guards. Yeah, his player had a last minute problem and couldn't attend the session, so the tiefling started running after the guard, and went M.I.A.
But, I digress. Let me remind you, dear reader, that the characters, at this point, were rather beaten. My brave cleric didn't have a single spell slot available, the quantity of healing potions was quite reduced, and our hit points weren't exactly maximized, and the horned-guy-that-shoots-eldritch-blasts had just ran off-screen.
So... Long story short, Sasha fell to the repeated beating of one of the evil guys' TWO-HANDED-GREATSWORD (thanks a lot, dear beloved DM; may you rot in hell, and the abyss, and so on, and on...), while Lanza used his magic to crowd-control the other evil guys with some fear effect. The problem was a minor detail called cambion. After he mind-controlled Khan, things were looking pretty towards the "it was a good ride, guys, but the campaign comes to an early end".

Septimus! Or possibly the cambion... I'm always confused!

But, apparently, the party didn't have its demise scheduled for this particular moment. Hidden among the captives was Lord Hector Brahms, who jumped after the cambion, forcing him to leave the scene. Simultaneously, Lanza managed somehow to withstand the hits from the last standing guard. Meanwhile, Khan was unconscious, slipping into the long night. At that moment, a booming voice manifested itself in the cleric's mind.
Khan was overwhelmed. His link with Marthammor Duin had been faltering in recent times, and a direct contact from "a god of dragons" was the last thing he was expecting.
Joining forces, the two last remaining heroes manage to clear the board and free the guards. But the cost was too high. Sasha's body lays lifeless on the floor of the courtyard. Khan walks towards the fallen comrade, takes her body in his arms and raises it towards the heavens. "Hear me, oh Bahamut, Lord of Dragons! If you'll accept me as your loyal, unflinching servant, I pledge my life to your cause, vowing to abandon everything behind me. I ask thee only to restitute the Breath of Life to my brave companion!"
The dwarven cleric's right arm points at the sky, and a flash of platinum descends towards it. His hand touches Sasha's forehead, and the ranger comes back to life.
Khan experiences an awakening. He drops his magical warhammer, tears his vest apart, and joins the escaping prisoners.
Wow! How's that for "a stupid game where you only roll dice and kill stuff"? In thy face, haters!
Gathering what remains of the captives we RUUUUUN TOOOOO THE... SEWERS (hmmm, not exactly the same as Iron Maiden), where a rotting, stinking, bitch drow asks us 250 gp to take us safely out of the city, along with the survivors. So, yes, the bastard DM refuses to give us treasure, AND keeps the day emptying our pockets! Where's the Complaint Form Nº 174-A/2580 to send to WotC?
We board a boat, and under the cover of night flee to Mulmaster, across the Moonsea…

The Tyranny of Dragons has arrived. May Bahamut guide our steps, and Tiamat use the DM as a backscratcher.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Khan’s Report: Tyranny in Phlan – Part 1

Tyranny of Dragons Storyline Season – Expedition 10: Tyranny in Phlan
[Heart of Platinum]
Khan (dwarf cleric), Lanza (elf bard), Sasha (human ranger), Septimus (tiefling warlock)

Previously: Several have been the services that the heroes--- errr, let's just call them characters - have performed for the city of Phlan, while the Cult of the Dragon's activity appears to be on the rise. But one must wonder: is there something bigger on the way?

Enter the Maimed Virulence
Following several downtime days, the characters gather once again in the city of Phlan. They are summoned by Lt. Aelid to the Laughing Goblin Inn, who shares her concern with the growing corruption within the Black Fists (the city guard). She suspects a rogue named Spernick (prisoner awaiting judgement) is behind it, and wants the characters to investigate it. Unfortunately, the meeting is abruptly interrupted, when an adult green dragon attacks the castle - where the city nobles are assembled - wreaking havoc all over the place.
The Maimed Virulence has arrived! 

At the same time, several cultists roam the city streets capturing people and dumping them in a carriage pulled by an ettin.
From the Laughing Goblin's first floor balcony, the not-quite-heroes unleash everything at their disposal at the ettin, drawing its attention. The two-headed giant closes in, and spits its foul breath at the almost-heroes. But the beast it is quickly felled.
Khan, the-only-one-resembling-a-hero, sees an evil priest coordinating the attack. While thugs and a giant lizard stampede into the Laughing Goblin, Khan jumps graciously from the window (yeah, you guessed it right... a dwarven cleric in heavy armor with 8 Dex "jumping graciously"...), onto the ettin's corpse, and chases the cultist.
The fight doesn’t go entirely on the heroes’ favor. Lanza and Septimus have a hard time facing the agents of the cult and their giant lizard, and Khan soon realizes that the cultist is indeed a priest of Tiamat, with a power far superior to his (good aligned 5th level cleric VS evil aligned 9th level cleric… guess who wins?).
Albeit drained of spells and resources, the characters manage to survive the assault.

You are Welcome… to leave the city
A GORGEOUS BRUNETTE PRIESTESS OF MORADIN (patron deity of dwarvenkind), with whom Khan will in the future have many sons and daughters (just to be clear: I’m talking about the priestess… not Moradin!), named Eunice Thundershield reports having seen a cambion (evil guy with red skin, horns, and demonic wings – can be easily mistaken with Septimus) leading the cultists, near Stonejaw Gate.
Amid the survivors we reencounter a recent acquaintance: Arya Glenmuir, who has, again, lost her spellbook. She believes the best thing to do for now is to help evacuate the population, but with the streets full of cultists we’re going to need the help of the Welcommers (the bastards that comprise the local thieves’ guild).
On our way to meet the Welcommers we discover that the castle guards have been imprisoned by the rebelling inmates. Oh, joy…

Necessary Evil
Almost arriving at the gate, we come across a group of traitor Black Fists. After a brief period where the party basically serves as punch bags, the rogue guards either flee or surrender. With the city fallen in chaos, and with most real guards captured by the followers of Tiamat, the party is faced with a problem: what to do with the surrendering thugs? Khan, having a background as a mercenary sergeant, is willing to give a clean cut to the traitors, ending their lives. All Hell breaks loose!!! All players and DM start waving their arms in utter shock! "You can't do that! That is evil! Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!" Well, ooook, under normal circumstances I wouldn't, but presently either we leave them here to be freed by the other escapees, or we give them "Judgment Day". "You can't! You can't! What about the bunnies, and the butterflies, and bees, and stuff! That is evil! EVIL!!!"
Khan rolls his eyes, turns around, and carries on. I hate alignment discussions in D&D... Next time I’m playing a paladin of Bane.
And now comes the funny part: amid the ensuing chaos that engulfed the city, Khan received a secret letter from the Harpers. It contained a mission. If Khan wanted to rise in the Harpers’ ranks he had to KILL the rogue Spernick (the one behind the rebelling guards). Now imagine what would have happened if I had decided to fulfill the mission, and kill a detainee entrusted to the city jail. I would be branded a black priest, my face would have been painted in the banners of legions of demons, and my name would have been associated with sheer evil, doom, famine, war, and all other plagues and curses one can imagine.
Curiously, it wouldn’t take long before the events unfolded in a way that would make Khan part ways with the Harpers. But I’ll save the surprises for Part 2.

The Gates of Hell
Stonejaw Gate stands before us, barred and with the cambion in command. But before the party can focus on the enemy, something unexpected happens: Ellissande, a young girl we rescued from being sacrificed at the clutches of three hags, appears mounted on a blind goat and making references to "he who runs below the waves". Khan is mortified! This is young, innocent Elissande! What the hell happened? Septimus inquires about "he who runs below the waves", but, distrusting the tiefling, Khan refuses to share any info with him.
Lieutenant Aelid enters the scene, commanding the few guards she managed to assemble. She's going for a frontal assault at the gates, hoping to create a diversion that allows the party to enter unnoticed.
So it begins!

(to be continued)