I ran the last game of the Comet sessions of #TorDnD that I'd plotted out this week. Challenge-wise, I think it ended up being close to on point-- I put down the paladin, at least-- but was a bit light for a climax. Over-all, though, the "one-free-long-rest" set-up worked out, with a short rest between rooms if they wanted it. I am bad at pressing the story on-- you know that I run Oubliette on a very character driven, loose-format style-- so the pacing was screwy, but it was alright mechanically. The challenge rating was a little light but the party was a little large. In retrospect, I should have just had Irene's character get deus ex machina'd into the mists when she couldn't make it. Which oh! At least I claimed a small fatality as K'arl the hummingbird was slain. (First photo is by Jonathan R.)
It's still surprising how unclear I am on 5e's rules; they've changed just enough about the fundamentals that I'm not sure how you qualify for a sneak attack anymore, or just how criticals work...let alone how the wonky ranger spells work. It means an experienced player can eke a lot more damage out in a turn than a rookie. I suppose that's the same as it ever was; just seeing how Tim running Irene's character as support turned her into a lethal machine gun turret. Not that he was pushing hard against the mechanics; he played her like a robot NPC, just like you normally would with an absent PC. He just has the best knowledge of the rules & so knows how (for instance) hail of thorns works, & that when there are clusters of enemies he should use an area attack. "Game skills." In addition, it makes me wonder if they've finally hit the sweat spot between "easy" fighters & "hard to play" magic-users; spells really added a whole new dynamic to the ranger's bow. I'd like to see a game play from level one; but you know that's my favorite (& no clerics).
We got to start the best way of all: "alright everyone, roll for initiative!" Last session had ended with Scott's character Kal-Ra & I think Tim's Bard Stavenham (we retconned it to be Stavenham either way) failed sneak checks peeking into the next chamber-- where a tentacle-faced white furry beast waited, surrounded by crystalline eggs! Some of which shattered or hatched, spilling out tiny hornless larval versions of the white "apes". There was a whole mutant ecology-slash-phylogeny going on in the background of the dungeon as people intuited, you know me. The "mother," which Carl called "a pile of clams," rolled pretty terribly, except for one glorious moment when she ate the magical hummingbird; the swarms of babies were made short work of by spirit guardians. Bridget's rogue Columbine is a sneak attack machine, once we finally get the rules figured out. The party chokepointed them at the door & the archers laid on the pain. It was brutal, for the monsters.
There's a giant tank filled with fluorescent green egg drop soup & a spirally horn or tusk with a piece of flesh at the end floating inside of it, when they enter the next chamber. Carl's cleric Domen uses the mold in the other room to drain out the ooze from it-- getting green slime on his pants along the way-- & Jonathan's paladin Aegwyn cracks the "glass" open with his magical longsword to pry the horn out. In the next room are some fallen stalagmites of ice...& another Gug-like creature that drops on them from the ceiling! Scott makes a quip about the horn & the sideways faces of the last bosses & the demon from Conan the Destroyer & I smirk because I'm glad someone caught the reference. There's also an invisible force in the room, a faint impression of a distorted & shark-like cheshire grin set between polished fire opals, reaching inside of people's bodies' & twisting their guts. I took the players to the line, using up pretty much off of their spells, dropping a PC (though he got back up) but the battle is short. They find a second fire opal in the four-armed giant's belongings, & a wooden chest...that is totally a Mimic! Kal-Ra the monk gets nom-nom'ed upon. Yeah, I made a dungeon & put a mimic & a rust monster in it. Heck yeah I did.
Domen makes tenuous contact with the invisible entity-- a successful religion check brings up the memory of seeing a similar visage illuminated in a manuscript & the titles "General of Gehenna" & "The Oinoloth"-- & he realizes it is stuck between the Prime & the Ethereal Plane. Ah, the ethereal gates of the star-shaped chambers! But backtracking in that direction, the party is confronted! By Marjan & her pet Hook Horror, & Went & Alia with their pet Chuul. They want the "Horn of Zargon", & the players know it. It's late in the night, & the conclusion is a little rushed so folks can get home for bed (gpoy): they are confident in Marjan's motives as someone who intends to control the horn. Went's motives are unclear, but Marjan warned them not to trust her & hey, I guess they trust Marjan! They give her Zargon's Horn, & she gives them a javelin of lightning forged by the cyclopes. (They didn't get a pet monster for Alia's side-quest.) & In the next 30 hours, after the players depart the fallen iceberg, the caves of the Comet melt & collapse...which would have been a real problem if they had taken two long rests, but they didn't, so no sweat! So that's my mini dungeon, & now my watch has ended. Till next time, anyway! I left all those breadcrumbs for good reasons, after all...