Boy, I seem to have alot of Fellowships don’t I?
Last we left our heroes, they had chosen to brave the dark curtain beyond the door in the cellar and found themselves in a fairly barren room, save two statues along one side of an old, faded circle they thought must have once magical. As predicted, the two statues had come to life when Liarra got close to the circle and they launched an attack against those in the room. Hearing the sounds of battle, Grengal and Legazi decided to brave the fire trap on the other side of the dark curtain to aid their friends. Thanks to a big of teamwork, the group made short work of the statues and proceeded to give the room a good once over, curious why an empty room would have guards, but nothing else. Unfortunately, they discovered nothing to indicate why this room even exists. They decided to instead investigate the trapdoor and ladder they blocked off earlier.
This combat pretty much solidified the amazing combination a Rogue (Legazi) and a Monk (Grengal) make. The two players worked well together with the monk constantly making trip attacks to give the Rogue combat advantage for more damage.
One ladder climb into darkness later and they found themselves in some sort of old tomb. It appeared that the tomb had been completely ransacked, including all of the bodies that would have been present. A gaping hole in one of the walls provided them with the most logical means of entry. The only thing they found was a scrap of cloth with the coat of arms of a long dead merchant house, House Travovich. Liarra was familiar with some of the stories told about House Travovich, mainly that they were demon worshipers who used dark dealings to help their trade business survive the Spellplague. According to the tales, they were slaughtered to the last when their demon masters turned on them and their bodies entombed beneath their home.
Realizing there may still be a theat to the home, which they were hired to remove, they decided to advance down the tunnel, thinking it might connect with the one the orcs made to get in. Unfortunately, as they spent several hours travelling down the tunnel and dodging a dangerous cave-in, they learned that was not the case. but, the afore mentioned cave-in had completely blocked their way back. so they had no choice but to continue on into the unknown.
To best simulate the cave travel, I had turned it into a skill challenge with several encounters along the way depending on successes and/or failures. This proved to be a bane at first as it led to an extensive discussion not only of the use of Passive checks, but of how best to run skill challenges. During this talk, I recalled a few things from past blog reads that I think will help me in the future. One is to plan out not only what skills are to be used for the challenge (Which I did), but HOW they are to be used. Second, when the challenge starts, go around the group and see what everyone is doing, allowing them to roll what may be appropriate, but only counting the ones that matter for the challenge. Also, by not announcing it’s a skill challenge, it will flow and feel a bit more natural and less “Here’s your Skill challenge!” kind of encounter.
So far, the others agreed and it seemd to work just fine.
As for Passive Checks, we may have been doing something wrong initially when handling them. Or, we were doing it right and the rule is too obscure or just crap. Either way, the way folks were thinking it worked is that it was something they would worry about keeping track of. This led to things such as:
Me: Ok, make a Perception Check.
Player: Does it already beat my Passive? Why should I roll and possibly fail when, if I’m not paying attention, I have a better chance of seeing it?
So we’ve taken Passive checks out of the players hands and given it soley to the GM to use at their discression. Much like how we handled Spot/Search/Listen checks most times in 3.5. Again, it seems all the players were in agreement and it seems to be working.
So, as they continued their trek down the tunnels, an unknown wrong tun brought them face to face with a lone dwarf in battered armor sitting on a rock; a gruff fellow who seemed not only to be quite defensive, but also a bit untrusting as the group did consist of a Kobold, a Drow, and an Orc (Half-orc, but he didn’t care). The biggest issue with the man though wasn’t his attitude, though it did hamper things a bit, but the fact that he was dead, evident by the torchlight passing right through him. After a bit of sweet talking by Varrack, they were able to calm the dead dwarf down and convince him he truely was dead, as that seemed to have escaped his attention (death had apparently fuzzed his memory a bit).
It tuned out that the dwarf, Thurin Ironcracker, was part of a clan who was defending their home from Druegar invasion over 600 years ago. He was placed on guard duty there when he was killed by an unknown assailant while waiting for reinforcements. However, his spirit remained to guard that spot for reasons unknown. He mentioned that the spot was the site of his clan’s family tomb and that recently he had heard commotion coming from within. Unfortunately, he was unable to do anything about it. He asked if the players would help him out and hopefully, if this is what is causing his spirit to linger, he will finally be able to join the rest of his clansmen in Dwarfhome.
This part of the plot was more of a sidebar for Varrack. It also had a few holes in it that fortunately, the players did not question. In truth, this and the rest of the skill challenge was somewhat improved as the point the previous session left off gave me three possible avenues of adventure and no time to plan for them all. So I planned what I could that would fit for either tunnel but left a few details out.
With Thurin’s help, they were able to enter the tomb where they discovered some sort of white ooze feasting on the bones of the dwarven bodies inside; an act that enraged Varrack to no end. With little warning, Warrack charged the Ooze, with the others not far behind.
The creature in question was amodified bone Collector Ooze from Open Grave. I took this as a chance to try out the monster modification rules in the DMG and, stat wise, it seemed to work. However, here is where we found another fault, not only with the rules in general, but also with a house rule we’d been using. First off, no where does it state you cannot trip and make prone an Ooze. This does not seem right since they really have no legs. But the rules do not accomodate this obvious issue with Ooze anatomy. Second, the Rule of the D30 (Replace your dice pool with a d30). I picked up on this little gem from the RPG Blogger network and it seemed a hit with the players. However, since the rule is a bit vague in its use, we’ve discovered a great reason to re-examine the rule. Primarily thanks to the rogue scoring a critical hit, stating she would like to use her D30, and, considered to be max damage on a crit, scoring an obscene amount of damage on what was suppose to be a tough challenge.
Needless to say, we need to fix that.
Eventually the Ooze was destroyed anmd the group, covered in slime, made their way back to Thurin who thanked them profusely for their help. Though he finally began to feel the call of Dwarfhome, he vowed to watch over the group as a his final duty to thank them for all they had done.
After an extended rest, and a lengthy and enjoyable conversation between Thurn and Liarra, the group was rested and ready to move on. Thurin provided them what details he emembered of the tunnels from 600+ years ago in hopes that it would help them on their journey. He also provided Varrack with a gift of no equal. Given Varrack’s clanless state, having been born into slavery, Thurin made him a member of Clan Ironcracker, presenting him with his old helmet and shield bearing the Ironcracker symbol. He also made the rest honorary members of the clan before finally fading into nothing.
Full of newfound spirit and vigor, the group began their mach once more into a dark and uncertain future.
Summary: This session was a bit of a challenge as I was only half prepared given the crossroads the players left me at. I tried as best as possible to cover all avenues of travel an was fortunate that they didn’t go beyond what I was ready for. However, despite the enjoyment of this session, I still waiver between my like and questionable dislike for the new 4e Realms. A part of me is more excited to return to Ameryka and continue with it’s design. Perhaps it’s because Ameryka is a new challenge for me and is something I need to get out of my system.