The triumphant return of #TorDnD, where Tim runs a game for Irene (Wren, human ranger), Jonathan (Aegwyn, half-elf paladin), Sam (Kit, human cleric), Bridget (Columbine, tiefling rogue) & me (Pantalone, tiefling wizard). Last session saw us in the depths of a crypt, having killed a necromancer Molgi & her troll "igor". Hey, I took her books; I'm hoping that I can convince Tim that at least one of them is a spellbook! One of my biggest pet peeves about Dungeons & Dragons is that divine casters just get automatic access, out of the box, to every single cleric spell ever, & if a new book comes out, they instantly get those to, while meanwhile wizards are left begging the Dungeon Master to throw a spellbook into the treasure every so often. Spellbooks are better game design, if you ask me. I think clerics should have a similar mechanic limiting their selection; maybe by the invention of the Domains their religion has access to? Anyhow, neither here nor there, just that spell lists & Vancian mechanics are things I have a fondness for but lots of Opinions about, like "if you are trying to balance a class by building its own bespoke spell list, you've already messed up." That said, the "no overlap on the Venn diagram between Divine & Arcane spells" is something I can live with; mostly I just think heck, you've already got spell levels. Build the class to restrict or allow access using your existing foundation of spell levels!
Anyhow, we had killed off the necromancer, so Pantalone got to the business of looting. There wasn't much. Meanwhile, other PCs were like "why don't we rescue the kids in this pit?" Okay, you got it. From there? We deduce that what the mark that the evil cultists are looking for is demonic parentage. Tieflings, in Tim's game like in Fourth Edition, are a distinct race, distinctly diabolical in fact, not like Planescape's general Lower Planes thing. Notable, since right-- Pantalone is definitely a creepy old jester-wizard who adopted Bridget's character Columbine as a daughter just because she was a tiefling-- we've got a "thing." The next step? Across the water, there is an island; there is a rowboat tied up at a secret dock & there is a lantern for signaling so we're able to Sherlock where to go next. Across the pond!
Into a totally stealth little cove! Uh, I kind of want to just...take over this dungeon? Set it up as our stronghold & go tower defense kingdom builders. It miiiiight be a little too evil for that though; the door to the lighthouse-like structure was a barbed, needled demon hand. Kit grasped it, & it grasped him, slicing him badly, & I made a mental note to prod Columbine to try to disable traps next time. Sorry, I was busy talking to my chicken familiar, Scaramouche. In & up into-- the hideous ritual! Well, two huge, blazing braziers-- a word I am notorious for mispronouncing as "brassiere" on occasion-- blocked the way, at first, & in fact shot flames at us when we used the stairs. There we fought albino troglodytes, gooey lizard-people, who protected a demonic figure, writhing in different aspects; incubus wings, hezrou arms, vrock head, what have you. Wren shot off an arrow & it hit him dead on & barely scratched him. He flew, & below him were a swarm of dretches, loathsome lowly demons. Behind them all, shackled to the floor, were three children, writhing in pain from visible bands of divine & arcane energy snaking together to power the mad demonologist, Wulgreth.
Wulgreth & his minions put up a fight! There are a few things you should know, up front. The first is that I have been having such shit luck with my polyhedral dice, every freaking d20 mechanical set that uses the full mix. If it was just my d20, I would just get new d20s. Oh, & it was the d20s, but remember fordmadoxfraud's Stories of Our Youth campaign, & how I rolled only 1s & 2s for my hit points every single level? Well, I went out & I bought two new sets of dice, & I did not screw around: I bought a black set, with white numbers, & I bought a black set, with red numbers. As Rob & Big would say, I got 'em murdered out. & guess who wasn't a completely useless buffoon for the battle? Pantalone! Oh, don't get me wrong; as the Dungeon Master, Tim's luck is uncanny, in the way that The Terminator is uncanny, it's unlikely in an Uncanny Vally, oh well this is doomsday, of course he rolled two 20s. So there were a lot of unlikely saves that were all out on the table for us to see, mocking our characters. Still, I coloursprayed the troglodytes & dretches, used my suggestion to counterspell Wulgreth's suggestion on Aegwyn, caused fear on the troglodytes & took a decent number of them out of the game, one of them completely, used my enchanter kit ability to give all attackers Disadvantage & soak up a good number of attacks-- unscathed-- I have to say, daddy needed a new pair of shoes & the new dice rolled the hard six.
The other thing you need to know is that our crew is a rope-a-dope party. In David's game, the "Thieves Three" were a surgical group with a glass jaw; we were stealth & assassination & then vanishing into the maze of secret tunnels in the Temple of Elemental Evil that we had seized control of, & lived inside of, carrying out special ops missions from within. That is now how this crew rolls. We roll in with Aegwyn in front, for one thing. Way in front. The paladin charges into it &...goes down a couple of times a fight. It's a scary thing. This time-- oh god, we were cracking up, things looked grim-- I had just turned him invisible to buy him time while the cleric's turn came up, since there were a truckload of monster's initiatives between then & now-- one of the blindly flailing dretches or troglodytes rolled a natural 20, on the randomly picked right square, & put him down. Down & invisible in the middle of the brawl. It turned out, Kit had an area effect heal spell, & it saved the day, but we are bruisers. We come out of a fight with bloody knuckles. I cast my mage armor & give all attackers disadvantage, so I actually stick around the edges of a fight, try to draw attacks-- I hope to get some bracers of armor or a ring of protection or magic robes,-- & I think I got my first kill, smashing a dretch in with my slapstick. Tim was proud that I didn't take magic missile-- I am Evocation light, by avocation-- but that means this was first blood.
The real blood letting was back behind everything, by the urchins writhing in agony. Kit, Sam's cleric, goes to slit one's throat, to mercy kill it, & the DM asks about his alignment, his god. Ehlonna, Kit says, is the fertility goddess, & the harvest goddess & sometimes there needs to be a reaping. Well that sounds like boilerplate doctrine to me, & Sam gets a just little kudos...& Wulgreth gets a little less mighty, dropping to the ground, one of his power sources taken away. Wren, meanwhile, has no such moral qualms or high-falutin' quandaries; she takes out the other two-- Tim swapping minis as he slowly loses demonic aspects, going from fearsome to just another crazy evil wizard. Listen, I'm a crazy not-evil wizard, I get it. & he gets it; I can't remember who got the kill in the end, Aegwyn's blade-- speaking of alignments, being a Paladin of a god of trickery has come in handy-- or Columbine's knife or another of Wren's arrows, heck-- Kit could have brained 'em. He went down. (Edit:Jonathan notes that Aegwyn did indeed get the justly deserved Finish Him.) They all went down. We took a lickin' & kept on tickin'. Put us in the ring & it is going to get a little bit messy. & I hope this freaking guy has a spellbook.
(Map by Jonathan Roberts; photo & map--click to enlarge-- by Tim Paul.)