Archive for the Session Reports: SRaO Category

Gnome Fu

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on October 5, 2013 by Carl

Our intrepid adventurers discover a secret passage hidden beneath the stone altar in Tiamat’s temple. Down into the darkness they go, bickering all the way. A rough cut tunnel leads them to the edge of a vast underground cavern. Ahead of them, vanishing into darkness, is a long rope bridge, swaying gently in the breeze.

A magically illuminated arrow is fired, revealing the bridge to be 100 feet across. It also reveals the vast scaly form of an immense blue dragon which comes sailing past. Habbakuk sees an opportunity where others see certain death; using his unerring sense of balance he sprints across the bridge leaving his companions dumbstruck in his wake.

He makes it most of the way across before the dragon sweeps down out of the darkness and casually severs two of the ropes holding up the bridge. Despite this Habbakuk keeps his feet and makes it across.

The others are left with a problem: this rope bridge has just become significantly more treacherous, and with that dragon out there somewhere it looks likely to become more dangerous still. Fortunately Thovar’s darkvision allows him to spot a well hidden path down the chasm wall, and the party make their way down in silence and darkness. That is until Apocalypsia slips and falls near the bottom, with much clattering and swearing. There is a roar from overhead, and the dragon swoops down after its escaping playthings.

Then a voice from the darkness whispers “come with me if you want to live”.

Meanwhile Habbakuk does some Ill advised exploring and finds himself pursued by a small horde of hobgoblins. His attempts at camouflage (hanging by fingertips over the side of the chasm) meet with limited success.

The rest of the party follow their benefactor to safety and discover they have been rescued by a clan of deep gnome monks who agree to come to the party’s aid. They head up the far side of the cavern and spot Habakkuk fast talking his way out of certain death.

They attack, using shock and awe tactics to cut a swathe through the hobgoblins and the redspawn arcaniss (largely by throwing kung fu gnomes at them).

Pressing on our heroes discover a ritual chamber, where the hobgoblins have been gathering power from their dragon god. Will the party shatter the magical receptacle before heading deeper into Azarr Khul’s lair?

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A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on September 19, 2013 by Carl

It is a truth universally acknowledged that children hide in store cupboards whilst heroes rest in secure locations.

So it is the door of a secure location that brother Bryn kicks in to discover his comrades, fast asleep in a cramped heap amidst the crates and barrels.

Delighted at being reunited with their dear friend and spiritual mentor our heroes set out with renewed vigour to a backdrop of Latvian fuckrock. This jolly mood is only slightly tarnished by the discovery that their store cupboard secure location was situated right next to four sumptuous guest bedrooms.

Their enemy’s deserted council chamber is soon discovered, along with a large number of papers, maps and war documents. These reveal no evidence of a Brindol traitor, but do name another spy, someone named Jocelin.

Azarr Khul’s throne, encrusted with gems, proves too great a temptation for Apocalypsia. Which is a shame, because it’s trapped. The party are first rocked by an eruption of fire, and then are chased round and round the table by a huge fire elemental. All that’s missing is the Benny Hill music.

With this creature slain a secret passage is discovered to the dreaded temple, and a far more considered attack plan is put into action. This is largely successful, and in no time at all those pesky Greenspawn Razorfiends are dead or fled.

There is no sign off the redspawn spell-caster however, nor of any exit from the temple. What next for our intrepid heroes?

This dungeon goes to 11

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on September 12, 2013 by Carl

It’s been a while since we were last round the table, and every one is a little rusty.

Our heroes, fresh from their battle with the chain devil, hear a scream from an adjacent room and set off to investigate. Thovar the impetuous dwarven rager charges into the room,  discovering it to be a torture chamber and cells.

He also discovers a balcony which he hurtles over, and a bone devil waiting for him below. Always the quick thinker (quick, not necessarily accurate) he turns his fall to his advantage, bringing his axe down on his foe.

Battle is joined, two more bone devils appear, and for a moment the dwarf looks like he might be in trouble. His companions come to the rescue though, with Habakkuk firing the final killing arrow.

A search of the cells reveals something unexpected; the tiefling warlock Apocalypsia has been captured by stragglers of the Red Hand army and has been brought to Azarr Kul’s mountain stronghold for questioning. Figuring that her best chance of survival is to rejoin her erstwhile colleagues she joins the party. In hindsight this decision doesn’t prove to be her brightest.

A secret door is discovered that leads down to a huge temple cavern, where draconic humanoids sing praise to their dark god. At this point things go seriously south; acting with a singular lack of strategy or preparation the party engage the enemy and quickly find themselves in big trouble.

Once again Thovar races in and finds himself surrounded, only his time his allies have troubles of their own and can’t effect a rescue. Brick comes under attack from flying Greenspan Razorfiends, whilst everyone else tries to cope with the fire spells of a Redspawn Arcaniss. Attacks are being split between enemies, the the party are outflanked and are taking significant damage.

Sanity prevails and a retreat is called for. One problem; Thovar is cut off and hurting badly. He bursts free and races for the tunnel entrance, four Greenspan Zealots at his heels.

He makes it by the skin of his teeth, barely clinging to consciousness. His pursuers are not so lucky; the party spellcasters earn their keep as they take down all four.

Our heroes fall back, retreating to the torture chamber. They are far too battered and drained to take on the Redspawn spellcaster and the five flying Razorfiends, and they are concerned that pursuit cannot be far behind.

Instead they retreat into the compound, eventually locating an out of the way store room. Here they bind their wounds, and bed down for much needed rest.

Can they make it through the night without being discovered?

Into The Fane of Tiamat

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on June 15, 2013 by Carl

The party have been informed that Azzar Kul, operating from his mountain fortress the Fane of Tiamat, is working on a complex, month-long ritual to open a portal to Tiamat’s court. Success would surely mean access to an infernal horde many orders of magnitude more deadly than the Red Hand army.

They finally reach the Fane; a vast sculpture of Tiamat is carved into a cliff-side, overlooking a small plateau. From one gaping maw plummets Varanthian, the undead white dragon, and ex-companion of Wyrmlord Ulwai Stormcaller.

The dragon sets about blasting the party with its icy breath, hovering out of reach over a vertiginous chasm. What can the party do? Artheon decides to fireball the creature, which proves remarkably effective. Within moments the dragon is severely wounded.

Thovar, ignoring such petty considerations as gravity and 120 foot drops, leaps off the plateau with a view to planting his axe Brainbiter in Varanthian’s skull. He ends up dangling from his axe, which lodges into the dragon’s lower jaw. This poses a small dilemma to his companions; if they send the dragon plummeting to its doom they send Thovar along with it.

Fortunately for the battle-crazed dwarf the dragon moves over the plateau in order to tail-swipe Erkeon off it, and Artheon blasts the creature into oblivion. Thovar is safe, and Erkeon is saved from certain death by the small miracle of being transformed into a pure-white dove (and picking up a hot dove lady friend into the bargain). It’s handy being a favoured saint of Pelor.

Once back in deva form Erkeon and his religious knowledge gets the party through the vast stone doors without incident, and the party move inside.

Overcoming a colour-coded puzzle/ trap in the foyer they move deeper into the Fane, discovering an abandoned barracks with the body of a bronze dragon chained to the ceiling. This proves to be the current home of  a chain devil, who is soon joined by four Doomhand Warpriests. Nightshard, the greatsword taken by Brick from General Kharn, proves to have a particular hatred for devils. This battle is a close-run thing, and were it not for Erkeon’s entangle spell locking down the chain devil for a large part of the combat things might have gone very badly.

Ultimately the party emerge victorious but battered. If the rest of the Fane is as tough as this they are going to have their work cut out for them.

The Court of the Undying

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on June 8, 2013 by Carl

We return to the Stupid, Reckless and Overwhelmed campaign, brought to you this week in glorious D&D Next-o-vision. The goal; to see if the old 4E characters are still viable when translated to this new version of the rules.

The party leave Brindol in search of the architect of the hobgoblin invasion, Azarr Kul. After a long day’s march across country towards the Wyrmsmoke Mountains they are in need of rest. Dusk is beginning to draw in when they spy the ruins of a small hill fort atop a lone hill. It is a cloudy night, and the party huddle round their small camp-fire in what was once the courtyard of this ruined place.

They are thinking of settling down for the night when the full moon comes out from behind the clouds. In that instant the courtyard  is transformed; bathed in moonlight they now find themselves in a place at once familiar yet utterly transformed.

The crumbling stone walls have vanished beneath tangled briars & vines. Where moments before they were in a rubble-strewn courtyard they now find themselves sat upon an impeccably tended lawn bordered by gnarled trees. The shadowy grey ruins have become a verdant, overgrown palace.

They hear music and laughter, and all around, moving with elaborate grace, are all manner of fey dancers dressed in the most magnificent courtly garb the party have ever seen.

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At the far end of the courtyard, sat at the head of a food-strewn table and flanked by six companions of obvious wealth and prestige, sits an elf even more striking than all the others. Utterly beautiful, dressed in shining armour and cloth of gold, he is clearly the ruler of this fey court.

The elf stands and claps his hands in delight. “Company! After all this time, we have company my brethren! My friends, welcome to the court of the Lord Undying, you are my honoured guests, please, eat, drink, dance!” The music rises once more and the dancing resumes.

Habbakuk is certain this is not his own world: the constellations overhead are unfamiliar and the place feels profoundly different. There is a heavy scent of unfamiliar flowers in the air,  It is warmer, the wind is lighter and has changed direction. And the elves are not the wood elves of his homeworld. They look to be high elves, or eladrin.

Artheon feels this place is inherently magical, and several active spells are in place. He has heard of of weak places in the world which link to the Feywild under the light of a full moon.

It soon turns out that their host has no intention of letting his new diversions ever leave; he intends to keep the party here forever. The party eventually grow hostile and the Lord proposes a series of challenges. Win and the party may leave, fail and they remain here forever, as playthings not guests. Brick ups the ante; if the party win they will take the Lord Undying’s wife, Sersimon.

The first challenge is simple; one hero must recount a traumatic, formative tale from their childhood. Brick recounts standing over his mortally wounded father, aged 10, surrounded by bandits, and being hit by lightning that somehow wiped out the bandit attackers. The scene plays out in the air above the assembled guests.

Next a trial by combat; NikNak the ettin and his two nixie companions are swiftly cut down by Thovar, Habbakuk and Brick once Artheon half paralyses the ettin.

The next childhood tale is Habbakuk’s, an oddly familiar fable of buying two goats, of ne goat running off, of going to seek the goat, being attacked by nomads, the nomads fleeing at the arrival of a friendly stranger, and finally of returning home only to find his parents burned to death.

Then a second trial by combat, this time against a treant and some dryads. Despite the enemy’s best attempts at mental domination the party soon turn their foes into kindling. The raging dwarf in particular puts out eye-watering amounts of damage.

Next the dwarf tells a tale of his childhood nemesis Joh, who stole the first axe he crafted, and how he was consumed with vengeful thoughts. Artheon is also called upon, and he explains that in an earlier life he discovered the existence of an evil deva, Kelsha, and of how he has pursued his foe through lifetimes without success.

Now the Lord Undying, his wife and the lords join battle, and this proves much tougher. Sersimon vanishes using the Blink spell, then casts mirror image, whilst the Lord Undying seems to be invulnerable to damage. Artheon takes out most of the Lords with a nicely positioned fireball, but Sersimon is soon causing chaos as her spells seem to drag the party back into the childhood worlds they described. To make matters worse Habbakuk seems to have lost the ability to roll above a 10.

Despite the illusionist’s formidable power The Lord Undying is eventually killed and Sersimon subdued. The illusions fall away and the Court is revealed as a dark echo of the glamour previously seen. The guests are haggard, exhausted and ugly. The plants are blackened and twisted. And the Lord Undying proves to be no Eladrin, but a simple wood elf.

Upon searching him the party find a fist-sized magical stone in his belt pouch, the secret of his eternal life. Yes, their foe has in fact been the elven ranger Sindarin, bearer of the Forever Stone.  Sersimon begs the party leave; the Lord will come back to life soon enough thanks to the power of that stone. She has been trapped with him for long enough.

A cloud passes over the moon and Brick, Habbauk, Artheon and Thovar, along with a greatly relieved Sersimon find themselves in the crumbling hill fort, free of the Feywild.

All in all it seemed to run pretty smoothly to me. The combats ramped up in difficulty (the last one was pretty tough) and gave everyone a chance to contribute. Thovar seemed a little overpowered. I have a feeling he was doing more damage than he should have been. Most importantly the characters seemed to fairly accurately reflect their old 4E selves.

What did you think? Is Next a winner, and do you want to continue the SRaO campaign using this system? Are there any tweaks required for your characters?

Khaaaaaaaaarn!

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on March 7, 2012 by Carl

The Red Hand pour into Cathedral Square, crashing into the meagre defensive lines. Striding through the combatants the party see the imposing figure of Wyrmlord-General Kharn, flanked by Wyrmlords Koth and Stormcaller, grinning at them.

“So these are the scum who have given my forces so many problems?” He scoffs. “I shall relish the taste of your blood!”

Battle is joined; Stormcaller’s ability to call down lightning that swaps combatants proves an enormous tactical advantage, and within instants Kharn is giving Habbakuk yet another pounding, while Artheon finds himself isolated amidst a small army of foes. Things have not started well.

Kharn proves a deadly foe, laying about him with furious blows of his mace and dishing out some significant punishment. Heroes fall, and all is beginning to look grim.

What happens next might be considered divine intervention. Is Pelor looking over our heroes? Or have the players finally had a proper look at their character sheets and realised they can do all sorts of cool things they never noticed before? Either way the timing is good; dying heroes feel the healing radiance of the sun god, and the battle turns once more as the golden lions join the fray.

Regardless, things remain on a knife edge. The three Wyrmlords are proving a devilishly tricky set of foes, and it is only due to a combination of formidable blows that a raging Kharn finally falls. The party turn their attentions on the tricky Stormcaller, only for Kharn to rise once again, his fanatical rage keeping him clinging to life, intent upon carrying out the will of Azzar Kull.

Eventually Habbakuk’s arrows put the gigantic hobgoblin down once again. Koth falls soon after, and despite a desperate attempt to flee in the claws of her zombie dragon, Ulwai Stormcaller is also cut down.

A wave of horror ripples through the Red Hand army. Their greatest leaders have been slaughtered by the mighty Saviours. The monster horde breaks and runs, the cheering Brindol guard at their heels. Against the most overwhelming of odds the city is saved!

Into the Sniper’s Nest

Posted in Session Reports: SRaO on February 25, 2012 by Carl

The party race into Cathedral Square to find a scene of utter chaos. Norro Wiston dashes towards them only for an arrow to plunge through his skull from above, killing him instantly. Poindexter points up at the sky, saying “Is that an arr—“ moments before an arrow plunges into his eye. As the party approach a knot of panicked soldiers they discover the cause of the disorder; Lord Jarmaath has been felled by an assassin’s poisoned arrow, and only swift work by the party’s healers keeps him from dying there and then. Only an antidote will save him now, and only one person will have that antidote; the assassin.

With Jarmaath dragged to the temporary safety of the cathedral the party identify the sniper’s nest (Doomsayer Bryn stands in the middle of the square shouting “Smite me, Pelor!” until they spot where the arrows are coming from), an undertaker’s shop on the far side of the square. They move in swiftly, Bryn commandeering a rather nervous group of guards along the way. At first however the place seems deserted; Bryn enters with his troops and begins searching coffins for the inevitable undead hordes, but is surprised to find nothing. Outside the shop the remainder of the party search in vain for another way in.

Bryn decides to head upstairs, blundering into caltrops on the stairs and narrowly avoiding a ricochet trick shot arrow. At this point two hobgoblin warchanters cast off their invisibility spells and lay about them with lightning lances. Habbakuk takes a pounding, and within seconds the Brindol guards are smoking piles of charred flesh. Everyone runs away, leaving Bryn alone upstairs with the Red Hand’s deadliest assassin.

Artheon calls forth his golden lion and re-enters the building. In an attempt to appoint (that’s the opposite of disappoint) Jo the DM draws a gay triceratops. Er’keon, having boasted of his uber-munchkin prowess, bumbles about warning that he’s about to do something. Apocalypsia snipes at the hobgoblins through a window whilst Bryn holds his ground upstairs, waiting for the assassin Skather to make his move.

The hobgoblins prove tricky customers, teleporting about the place, but they fall soon enough. Er’keon races up the stairs and straight into the caltrops, re-establishing his munchkin kudos (“Do Devas get +1 Reflex vs bloodied caltrops?”), and the party make their move on Skather.

They discover that slippery assassin has fled onto the Brindol rooftops. As Bryn makes a spectacular slow motion leap to the adjacent building to pursue the assassin, his foe fires an arrow at a crate in the building behind him. The crate explodes, throwing Artheon out of the upper storey window an into a pavement faceplant.

Now the chase is on; the party, complete with golden lion, race over the rooftops, making daring leaps, ducking under clotheslines, clambering through narrow shortcuts and over burning rooftops whilst taking potshots at the fleeing assassin. During the course of this pursuit the D&D skills system is abused to a point that would have the game designers weeping into their beards (“Apocalypsia is going to Bluff herself into believing she can make this leap”).

Skather almost makes his getaway, but two arrows in the back finally put him down. The antidote is retrieved, and the party race back to the cathedral to administer it to Lord Jarmaath.

(and here’s the bit I missed at the end…whoops!)

The party hand Priestess Goldenbrow the antidote, but as they stand on the cathedral steps they hear the sound of the hobgoblin wardrums redouble. A small band of battle-weary soldiers, led by Captain Lars Ulverth on horseback, race into Cathedral Square.

“Form ranks!” cries Captain Ulverth to the bleeding and beleaguered troops. “They are coming! The Red Hand are coming! And Wyrmlord-General Kharn himself is at their head!”