Sunday, 29 March 2015

Campaign Highlights “The Pendants of Tor-Logos” – Sessions 11 to 20

Having reached its 20th session, here are the highlights (sessions 11-20) of our “The Pendants of Tor-Logos” campaign. The original, in Portuguese, is in the campaign website: link
The English version was done with some “fast translation” via Google Translate, therefore its quality may be slightly diminished.

(click to enlarge)

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Scroll Thief – D&D 5 @ LisboaCon 2015

The 5th Annual Encounter of Portuguese Roleplayers, integrated in LisboaCon 2015, brought the famed Vacaria Brotherhood to hunt "The Scroll Thief" (D&D 5 Expedition).
The present report may contain (trust me, it does!) language inappropriate for halfling and gnomes under 150 years.

Stolen Books and Irritating Svirfneblins
So, the intrepid heroes of Phlan - Harper Dwarf Cleric KHAN, Emerald Enclave Ranger SASHA, Zhentarim Fighter/Rogue ANDREZEEL, and Descendant of Asterix's Bard LANZA - were once again summoned to aid Mantor's Library. After reencountering the broom-wielding pain-in-the-ass svirfneblin that shouts at every Harper for "dirtying the floor", The Vacaria Brotherhood met Emma Brandywine, a crazy halfling lady scribe (which smeared everything with ink). Apparently, three books had been stolen from different people associated with the Library (immediately we could tell that we were roleplaying in a fantasy world - quite probably the only place where someone is interested in books...).
After passing a Will save to avoid STOMPING the goddamned svirfneblin with me olde dwarven boots, we headed towards the book proprietors.

Mischievous Bookkeepers and Gladiators
The first on the list was Arya, whose book "The Weave" had been stolen. The book talked about “something arcana” and THE POOL OF RADIANCE being some kind of focus for enhancing magic. Our genius bard (INT 8) decided to investigate the bookshelf, where he found some runes. He decided to investigate the runes REALLY CLOSE. Yes, something went KABOOM, and he gained a new hairstyle. At least it was useful: Arya discovered that someone had messed with the runes. Hummm, at that moment me dwarven nose started sniffing something fishy, and it wasn't the cursed svirfneblin. Arya was withholding information from us! I teamed with the ranger's wolf and rolled a gazillion in intimidation, forcing her to reveal that, beside the book, a Horn of Blasting and a set of magical scrolls were also stolen.
Second on the list was a brother dwarf, named Martin, who had a fighting school. He had a volume from the collection of "Ren’s Memories", telling about the glorious fight of Ren and the dragon Tyrantraxus in... The Pool of Radiance! Martin also gave us a list locating some other volumes stored in the Library.
Lastly, we visited Ajin Lammarck (possibly related to the guy that wrote about giraffes' necks?) who was missing a book titled "Lords and Lineages of Phlan". Hummm, again I noticed something fishy in the air. Again it wasn't the svirfneblin. Again I intimidated the guy. Woohoo, me dwarf is gaining a reputation of badass. So, the lying bastard had altered the pages of the book in order to claim nobility to his family. The shock! The outrage! The infamy! Truth must be defended! Or we can simply get bribed and forget about it. With 60 gp, a carpet, and the promise of 10 platinum pieces if we return the book, we left the house with our silence.
No, dear reader, your eyes didn't deceive you. We brought the guy's carpet with us. Hey, it was a large Persian-like carpet! I'm sure it is worth a fortune! But since we forgot to sell it afterwards, let us take a moment to remember that we spent the rest of the adventure walking around with a HUGE PERSIAN CARPET ON OUR SHOULDERS. Forget about Vacaria Brotherhood, henceforth we are The Keepers of the Rug!

Enter Soares
If there was any doubt that the Portuguese had colonized Faerûn, it was dismissed the moment a guy named Soares jumped in front of us (the DM swore it was the official name in the Expedition document). He identified himself as belonging to "The Whisperers", the local thieves' guild. His boss (promptly named Aníbal - only Portuguese will understand) wanted a word with us. Well, ok, we followed the guy, still carrying our carpet, and... AMBUSH! Three halflings jump out of trash bins and - coordinated by Soares, who gets rid of his elf disguise - attack us.
Soooo, let us take another moment to interiorize the present scene: four guys are walking around the city carrying a large Persian carpet, suddenly the dude in front of them removes his prosthetic elven ears, and a trio of halflings jumps out of trash bins for an ambush. Can things get a little loonier? I don't know, maybe the bard could start swinging a pair of maracas and sing "La Cucaracha"?
With everybody dancing the Macarena, we make short work of Soares and his trio of mariachis. There was a note in his pocket ordering him to "deal with us", and signed E.B.
E. B.? Who the hell is E. B.?
Eva Braun?
Emma Bunton (a.k.a. Baby Spice)?
Eric Bana?
Or... could it be EMMA BRANDYWINE!!!!!

Ooooh, the plot thickens, and by now me dwarven nose smells a list of suspects:

- Arya and Ajin (both of them could be involved in some scheme, and both were lying to us)
- Emma Brandywine (although far-fetched, her initials correspond to the incriminating note, and it had ink stains)
- The Svirfneblin (I want him to be on the list, just because)
- Andrezeel (the guy is a Zhentarim, for Mystra's sake!!! He already stole a Ring of Fire Resistance!!)
- Eva Braun (hey, the bitch and Hitler could have faked suicide and fled to Faerûn!)

The Chase and The Horn of Blasting
Returning to the Library we discover that two scribes are missing: Garda Greenleaf and Elisson Berenguer. Yes, the most perceptive of you have noticed that one of them has E. B. in the name. Damn, me dwarven heart was betting in the svirfneblin.
A brief visit to the quarters of E. B. reveals him to be part of the Cult of the Dragon. Remembering the location of the additional volumes of Ren’s history, we chase him insanely until floor minus 15 of the Library (boy, is this thing huge). YES, WE STILL HAVE THE CARPET!!! I’M NOT LETTING GO OF THE CARPET FOR ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD!
We find the body of Garda, and two of the missing books (the first and the second), but with several pages missing. We hunt the bastard. He plays the Horn of Blasting. Everything collapses. We’re not dead! Pilled with rubble, but still breathing, AND HOLDING TO THE DAMNED CARPET! We run. The chase is on. This is intense. Big room. Five wraiths! Damn, no magical weapons! We hit! We bash! We zap! The dog dies. Sorry, it was a wolf. There’s a chest with a “something made of bone that fits in a head” inside. The bard is an idiot. He picks the thing, and places it on the head!!!! SUSPENSE! Everything stops! Incoming mini-heart attack! The DM announces it is a Headband of Intellect, thus moving the bard’s intelligence from 8 to 19.
WHAT?!?!?!?!!? WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?! YOU-----WHAT!?!?!!?!?!?!? WE’RE GONNA KILL THE DM!!!!
No time! Must chase E. B.! BOOM. Explosion. Smells like Sulphur. How do we know, none of us is a wizard? Doesn’t matter! The chase is on again! Almost catching the guy. Sunlight. The guy is running away in a horse.

That moment you go into a swamp and receive a wedding invitation
Unable to catch the bad guy, we investigate the stuff he left behind. There’s a map with an X. And a letter telling E. B. to meet Ritnax. We start laughing. Why the hell does the name have DRAGON WRITTEN ALL OVER IT?!?!?!!?
We head to the swamp, and… the Black Knight from Monty Python is impeding the crossing of the bridge. Well, ok, not the guy from Monty Python, but our acquaintance Gilthanas, bagpiper extraordinaire. He’s getting married with the girl from previous session, which so happens to be a gold dragon. We are all invited to the wedding. Great! Me dwarf happens to know a great trio of mariachi halflings…
We continue to the swamp with Scarlet father’s blessing (I’m just going to mention, casually, that he is the Avatar of Bahamut).
SWAMP! We catch up with Elisson, who is extenuated. All is well when it ends well. Oh, look, there’s a dragon behind you. SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! Wait, it’s not a dragon! It’s a cute little, tiny, baby youngling dragon. He even has a cute Hello Kitty backpack, as if he’s just returning from school! Aaawwwwww… Then he opens his mouth and does 5d8 acid damage. SCHEISSE! Not so cute anymore.
The dragon is not alone. Lizardmen, coming out of the lair. Wait, there’s more: the lair has special rules! The swamp starts FARTING, and me olde dwarf gets thrown to the floor. There’s darkness, and me olde dwarf gets blinded. There’s a swarm of insects coming out of the lair, and me dwarves’ beard gets full of bugs! STOP IT, YOU BASTARD DM!!! I’M STARTING TO HATE YOU EVEN MORE THAN THE GUY WITH THE BROOM! THERE’S NO WAY YOU’RE GONNA MAKE ME DROP THE FUCKING CARPET, OK!!!???? JUST GIVE UP!
Eventually we end up killing all the lizardmen, and the dragon flies away. We capture Elisson, and the Zhent wants to receive the award by delivering him to the authorities. But I’m a neutral good Harper, and I know it means death for the guy, who shows signs of repenting being associated with the Cult of the Dragon. I manage to convince the rest of the party to deliver him to Scarlet’s father, placing him in custody of the Church of Bahamut. Great, now I’m on the hit list of the Zhentarim…

Final Thoughts
This was a great session. I had lots of fun and we managed to have great roleplaying moments. Probably this was an Expedition more appropriate for a “non-convention” environment, since it required much attention to details, investigation, and gathering puzzle pieces. With more noise coming from other tables, and me having to pause once or twice to “say hi” to some friends, a lot of the “feel” may have been lost. But, otherwise, you would never have experienced THE CARPET!
Congratulations to the DM who has been guiding Vacaria Brotherhood through all these hilarious adventures, and to all the marvelous people involved in coordinating the Portuguese Roleplayers National Encounter, which is getting more intense each year, and with record participants.

P.S. I’m placing a unique Persian carpet on e-Bay, in case anyone’s interested…

Thursday, 5 March 2015

D&D 5 – It’s Raining Dragons

The Courting of Fire – Parte 2
(Para ver o que se passou na primeira parte: link)

O antipático DM que tem assumido as rédeas das sessões da Irmandade da Vacaria fez bem ao lembrar no início da sessão a "Batalha de Lepanto". Quando derrotado pela frota do Papa Pio V, o Grão-Vizir do Império Otomano terá dito que a derrota era meramente o equivalente a cortarem-lhes as barbas, pois estas voltariam a crescer. Foi com esta moral que o heróico Khan Bleedingaxe deixou para trás o fatídico episódio com os elfos-turcos da Darksong Forest. Com isto, e com uma mascarilha ao estilo bandido do Velho Oeste em redor do rosto, feita a partir dos trapos de um pano com o símbolo dos Harpers.

Ice, Ice, Baby
À saída da floresta - coincidência das coincidências! - damos de caras com Lanza (bardo) e Sasha (ranger), que obviamente não estavam perdidos numa qualquer floresta no meio das montanhas...
Pouco tempo houve para festejos, porque logo de seguida deparamos com «A Vaca» presa num bloco de gelo, junto a um simpático dragão fêmea que respondia pelo nome Aneska. Alas!, a pérfida Anushka (pessoalmente prefiro tratá-la assim, de forma bastante menos ameaçadora) ameaça-nos de morte se não lhe trouxermos o artefacto escondido na caverna do Circle of Scales.
Corajosamente, e sem qualquer hesitação, o muy bravo e heróico Lanza diz-lhe imediatamente que sim.
É encorajador uma pessoa saber-se rodeada de intrépidos camaradas, que não vacilam perante as adversidades...


Chegados a um templo em ruínas, Andrezeel verifica que este está repleto de kobolds. Toda a gente pega nas suas armas de longo alcance, e desata a disparar. Esperem! Toda a gente? Não, pois o glorioso Khan vem armado - ao bom estilo anão - com um martelo de batalha e um machado. E então, no meio de flechas e dardos de besta, Khan irrompe pelo campo de batalha soltando um grito de guerra. E, cumprindo a tradição, antes de dar dois passos está estatelado no meio do chão, rodeado de kobolds, e a sonhar com anãs roliças com barbas perfumadas.

Por baixo do templo encontram uma câmara, decorada com motivos alusivos aos dragões, cheia de zombies. Finalmente, após tantas e tantas e tantas horas de martírio, plasmadas em 1100 pontos de XP acumulados, eis que o meu clérigo anão Harper prova finalmente servir para alguma coisa! Bendito turn undead, que consegue manter boa parte daquela bicharada controlada.
A charmosa violinista Scarlet tenta armar-se em Lara Croft, fazendo piruetas enquanto dispara as suas hand crossbows, e estatelando-se estrondosamente em cima de um altar cerimonial. Tento convencer o DM a meter uma múmia debaixo do altar, mas o tipo é antipático e não liga patavina às minhas brilhantes sugestões. Scarlet tenta recompor-se, fazendo nova cambalhota no ar para cima do segundo altar cerimonial. Estatela-se novamente no meio do chão. Hummm, de repente começo a pensar que o meu anão desbarbado não faz assim tão má figura.

Trick or Treat
Havendo uma porta de metal na câmara, eu e o Lanza fazemo-nos passar por bandidos enviados por Teebem, em busca de Spernick. Somos actores fabulosos, dignos de um Óscar, mas o pérfido DM não nos abre a porta. Se ele tivesse seguido a minha sugestão da múmia, neste momento podíamos tê-la usado como aríete. Em vez disso, usamos um dos NPC Harpers que estoira com a porta usando o seu Greataxe.
Mais porrada, mais kobolds, o Spernick é um maldito clérigo que faz inflict wounds. O Lanza cai ao chão, e eu já só tenho um feitiço de cure wounds. Um dos Harpers cai ao chão, e eu já só tenho um feitiço de cure wounds. A Sasha cai ao chão, e eu já só tenho um feitiço de cure wounds. Isto está a correr bem.
Miraculosamente, conseguimos capturar Spernick e evitar perder qualquer membro do grupo.

Em caso de dúvida, mandem o bardo à frente…
A sala onde derrotamos Spernick tem uma estátua de um dragão vermelho. Nos bolsos do sacerdote maléfico encontramos um quarto de uma esfera preta, e outro quarto de uma esfera verde. Andrezeel encontra “algo mais” – um anel de fire resistance!!!!!! – que cordialmente decide ocultar do resto do grupo! MALEDETTO ZHENTARIM! SOLO SCORTICATO VIVO!!!!!
Para completar a esfera faltavam dois quartos da raiz quadrada de duas metades. Havendo quatro salas armadilhadas, fizemos o que tinha lógica: atirámos o bardo para dentro de cada uma das salas! Esquartejado, electrocutado, scorticato vivo, e mais uma data de patifarias, e lá conseguimos reunir os quatro quartos de π r2.
Eis que se abre uma porta secreta, e de lá aparece um wraith-something que diz blablablablabla, nobody cares, die, die, die, we want the loot. Morre, atingido por alguns dos meus raios radiantes, e outras coisas. E no interior da sala flamejante… o artefacto! Uma escama de Tiamat!

Soltem os dragões
A senhora violinista começa a armar-se em carraça, e insiste em ficar com a escama. Eu começo a armar-me em carraça, e insisto em levar a escama aos Harpers. O bardo começa a armar-se em carraça, e insiste em entregar a escama à Anushka. Esperem lá, mas o bardo ainda está vivo? Onde é que anda o Zhentarim quando precisamos dele? A Sasha, que até ao momento se manteve neutra na disputa, decide armar-se em carraça, e insiste em levar a escama para o Emerald Enclave (seja lá essa gente quem for). O DM decide armar-se em carraça, e um dos Harpers desata a correr em pânico e a gritar que a Anushka está lá fora.
Mesmo sem barba eu sou um gentleman, e não mato a carraça da Scarlet. Decidimos voltar à superfície “e logo se vê”. Eis senão quando, chegados cá fora, a Scarlet decide transformar-se num COLOSSALMENTE GIGANTESCO GOLD DRAGON e usa o artefacto para fazer panquecas da Anushka.
Contagem final: Harpers vs Zhents vs Emerald Enclave vs Bardo = Empate Técnico
Curtain falls, quero um downtine de duas décadas para que a minha barba volte ao sítio. THE END.

Esta foi a Expedition de que menos gostei. A razão é simples: enquanto jogador não gosto de me sentir um mero espectador na história. É perceptível que o grupo nada poderia contra a Anushka, que embora não fosse um great white wyrm certamente faria tiras de bacon com todos nós se em algum momento a decidíssemos enfrentar. E, tanto quanto percebi, não tínhamos hipóteses de sair vivos do esconderijo do Circle of Scales sem ter a Scarlet para activar a escama, depois de se transformar numa ancient gold wyrm. Em suma: nada podíamos contra a Anushka, nada podíamos sem a Scarlet, e provavelmente nunca conseguiríamos ficar com a escama para tentar explorá-la de alguma forma para a história da campanha.

Fica um sabor agridoce, porque foram dois episódios onde foi notório o sacrifício do grupo, e o esforço que foi necessário para conseguirmos sair dali todos com vida, e no fim fica a sensação que pouco teve a ver connosco, e que saímos dali com cento e poucas moedas de ouro, que ainda por cima mal pagam as healing potions que tivemos que usar.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Session II.21 – Parental Advisory. Explicit Content. May Contain Succubi. (YES, PLEASE!!!)

My players are the luckiest bastards in the world. Why? Well, because they have an awesome DM! And no "perception" check or "sense motive" will tell you otherwise.
Last session made it quite clear that if the baby the succubus is carrying is given birth, everything will drastically change in the campaign. I expected some moral discussion among the players, but I was pretty sure that in the end they would end up killing the demon-mommy and the demon-baby. It would only be a matter of "how" and "when"...

You should never interrupt your nemesis when he's in the middle of "doing the hanky-panky"
Being the succubus resting in McKymera Castle, one of two approaches was to be expected: the party could decide to go through the front door and try to expose the situation (although a highly unlikely scenario, the paladin could insist on doing that), or they could infiltrate the walls via stealth and invisibility.
They could have used scry on the target, placed themselves invisible, and teleport to the location, catching the enemies by surprise. But they are great guys, and they know I hate that kind of thing because it ruins any roleplay attempt.
So, when they announced "we're going to teleport to some small bedchambers inside the castle, not usually occupied"... The Evil Bastard in me knew that something special had to happen!
Taurus McKymera is known to be a boisterous Conan-like guy that enjoys having concubines satiate his XXX desires. Therefore, when Thorkron triggered the teleport, the party surprised Taurus in the middle of… THE HANKY-PANKY TIME!
Yup... nothing beats EPIC as having your nemesis flee along the castle dressed only in his moustache and goatie!

Copycat, copycat, copy-copy-copy, copycat
Like a Magician, a Dungeon Master isn't supposed to reveal his secrets. But, since I'm not getting paid to do this... I'M GONNA TELL YOU EVERYTHING!
Among the enemies I had prepared for the clash with the party was Antares, whose origins are linked to a background idea from one of the players (although with a few twists). I didn't want the battle to be a single scene with the group versus ten thousand stat blocks, so I had no idea when Antares (a lesser demon) would make its premiere. I wanted to stall the group a little bit (to give Taurus enough time to get properly dressed), so I threw the demon I had picked to portray Antares, a Kalavakus, from Pathfinder Bestiary 2. Needless to say that, when you have a fucking PA-LA-DIN in the group, you don't pick the enemies reasonably... YOU GO STRAIGHT FOR THE BIGGEST MUTHAFUCKING MONSTER IN THE BOOK AND MULTIPLY ITS HIT POINTS BY A GAZILLION! AND THEN ADD 25% MORE!
The thrice-damned paladin goes for 240 damage in a single round, and my jaw drops... Ok, think fast: how do you go from complete fail to total awesome in 10 seconds? Well, you keep the demon's head talking after being severed, laughing maniacally, and announcing that "Antares is like the hydra: cut one head and two more appear". And - PUFF! - there you have two more identical copies of the demon walking on air!
Nevermind that... the bastard paladin just goes for another 230+ damage round.
I REALLY am going to banish paladins from play FOREVER!
At least it was an unexpected turn of events, resulting in a good scene, and the name Antares now has an ubber demonic aura around it.
I just need to open the book and choose a CR20 baddie to throw at the paladin next session...
Humm… maybe I’ll prepare two baddies, just in case…
The hunt for the succubus continues next session!

P.S. I REALLY hate paladins...

Session Chronicle and Epilogue (Portuguese): link