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Monthly Archives: November 2012

Part One

So the party navigates to the end of the half-finished ancient dungeon and run into their second Djinni, but this one is much less than pleased to see them. It quickly becomes apparent that the magic spell which had entrapped him was faulty, and he’d spent the last several millennia siphoning off the magical energy of the trap to create a dungeon. In only a couple hundred more years he’d have been able to free himself. 

The party basically just gets angry back, shouts him down with something somewhere between intimidation and diplomacy and he agrees to grant them the wishes they’re due. The party wants Magic items, and so that’s what they get, but what they don’t know is that since Djinni’s power has also been corrupted in the same way the magic trap was, and so the items it created for the party also where corrupted (read cursed).

To be honest, Mordenkainen’s Big Book of Magic Things for Adventurers had just come and I was very happy that the party opted for Magic Items instead of just pure wealth or one of the other options they could have picked. Of course, it was a good 4-5 sessions before the curses even came up.

Part One

So the party solved the second puzzle, and this time there was a dungeon rather than a Djinni just showing up. They entered the dungeon, fought a few ghosts, including Pickles, the dumbest ghost.

See, these ghosts normally where solid and looked like people. They could however, when circumstances warranted it, become insubstantial and fly. The ghosts waited to ambush the party until they were party way over some super rickety ass old rope bridges between giant rock pillars. Of course, the party was able to handle them fairly handily, even with one party member hanging on for dear life for a portion of the fight. There is only one ghost left. It’s floating out of reach of the party, insubstantial . It’s turn comes up and decides to attack the party. Now earlier in the session we’d had several instances of players forgetting bonuses or extra damage, and I’d let them do a few take backs, before getting sick of it and telling them no more RetCons.

That was of course the point where, as we say in the DMing business, I’d got my petard ready to hoist, even if I didn’t quite realize it at the time. So back to Pickles (he wasn’t named Pickles til later mind) his turn comes up, and being a vengeful ghost he decides to keep firing ranged attacks at the party from safety of being 20 feet from the edge of the pillar. Of course right after I roll, and hit, one of the players it comes to light that attacking causes the ghost to lose Insubstantial and Flight. Oops. Well, Fair is Fair, my petard goes up, and the ghost falls down. It was at this point that the ghost was named Pickles, and deemed a reoccurring character. He hasn’t shown back up … Yet.

Now as the party had been (and continued to) explore the dungeon they ran into some rather interesting peculiarities about it. Namely it was newly old. There were dead ends where it really looked like the corridor should have gone on, but the walls and floor were worn by countless ages.

Part One

So enroute to Nibenay the party had acquired more mounts, to whit several Kanks (think giant spiders) and somehow I forgot entirely about this. This involved a second Djinni + Strimko puzzle, more spawn until solved monsters, this time swarms of baby Kanks, and this time after solving it the players were able to decipher that the magic lock had been teleporting the Kanks in from somewhere nearby, and a bit of investigation and roleplaying on their part allowed them to acquire enough Kanks so that the entire party was mounted…

The 4e mount rules are kind of crap, and I hadn’t really learned them, so I hand-waved that they hadn’t trained them well enough to use them in combat. This made many thing easier. And of course if I remember right, even this post is kind of out of order, as before the party went to find the Kank Hive, they went into the cave system of the Djinni. That’ll have to be a story for another day (like tomorrow) and eventually we’ll get back on track (or I’ll edit this, and put these 3-4 posts in chronological order once I am sure exactly what that order is).

Part One

So after a bit of skill-challenge and several combats the party arrived safely in Nibenay. Here they had a session that was basically “SUPER HAPPY SHOPPING TIME”. They used the loot they’d picked up fighting in the desert to purchase gear that they needed, and in seeing as how Dragons are basically unknown on Athas, I let them use the bits they’d “salvaged” from the Dragon they fought earlier to either acquire wealth, or make magic items. I do like making custom magic items, so our shield user got a spiked shield, that dealt an extra 2d7 fire damage on crits (hey, any excuse to roll my d7s, even if I’m not the one getting to do it, am I right?!) and the mage modified his cloak and it, as a daily, could negate damage from any area fire attacks that dealt half damage on a miss.

I must admit I was a bit remiss, and barely hit the party with any area fire attacks afterwards … but if they ever do go back to Athas (here’s a hint, unless they fail, they’ll have to someday) I’ll be sure to positively drench them in area fire.

Now, Nibenay is a very tyrannically controlled city, but they managed to lay low (aside from magical acquisitions) long enough to re-equip, and find out a bit more about the ruins to the north. They didn’t find much about the Amulet of Index, but they did figure out enough to know that it was some sort of magical clerical device. Queue the Excel jokes.

Part One

So the party had a couple of fights in the Arena, and then teamed up with an Assassin whom they were supposed to be fighting, made some ridiculous rolls, enlisted their opponent, an assasin named Dajani and rode an Inix literally through the arena gates and escaped. If they’d spent a bit more time and not forced the issue they could have recovered their weapons and armor, but I don’t really blame them for wanting to escape from under the boot heels of their cruel slave masters as soon as possible.

Anyways, they didn’t have a better plan and decided to follow up on the plan put forth by Carloff and head towards Nibenay. They had a couple more violent encounters with the local fauna. Then as they started to get close to Nibenay when they were assaulted by a dragon. Not that there are any dragons in Athas, this one came through aportal in the sky from Sigil, and offered the party a quick death if they handed over the port-key. Needless to say they declined it’s kind offer.

Dajani, decided to try to escape back to Sigil and teleported through the portal just before it closed. That ended up providing a small moment of levity, as of course the other end of hte portal was in the sky of Sigil, and so they heard his surprised scream dopplering away as the portal closed.

Part One

So, whilst imprisoned, before their first fight, I dropped the first clue that there was something “bigger” going on. I mentioned it in passing in the blog when I was talking about my reasons for sending them to Gamma World.

Anyways they’re in jail, and one of the prisoners stands up suddenly and begins acting different. He launches into a speech:

“I’m Wake-pilot Carloff. Some of what I’m going to tell you won’t make sense, but I’m afraid I don’t have much time, so please just listen. The ship was hit. I was injured repairing the damage, but the memomax transfer isn’t working right so I’ve got to pull you out. Unfortunately whatever hit us also set off TRENCH’s defense alert and everything is locked down, so you’re basically going to have to get yourselves out. Follow the mountains south then west to Nibenay. The ruins in the forest north of Nibenay should have an Indexing Talismen. Take that back to Artificer of Dreams.

I doubt they’re going to give you a fair fight so take these.” He hands you a small bag. “They’ll enchant your weapons and armor for a few minutes, but don’t let anyone see you apply them. I’ve made detailed notes on hard copy in case I’m dead before you get out, so TRENCH won’t … oh frak.” He blinks and looks confused and sits back down.

The party figured out the prisoner had been possessed, but didn’t exactly know what to make of it. The bag contained some gems that would temporarily give them level appropriate bonii to their weapons so that the “stacked fights” they were going to be facing would actually be approaching fair.

Part One

Well, almost everyone it turns out. The party soon ran afoul of a group of slavers. I can’t say I’m proud of this “fight”,  but mercifully it was fairly quick. The slavers were like 7 levels above, and overpowered the party pretty handily. I did tell the players early on the “bandits” were dealing subdual damage. They were then captured, stripped of their metal gear and stuck in caged wagons then hauled off to Cromlin to be put in the Arenas. They had after all done a fair number on the attackers even though they were way out classed. And by class, I mean level.

Now in Athas, metal is super rare, even coins are generally made of ceramic. So of course the slavers were beside themselves with greed at acquiring an entire suit of (either scale or plate) mail armor made of metal. That’s a small fortune in Dark Sun terms. Originally my plan had been to have 3-5 sessions with the PCs as slave fighters. This would have made sessions super simple, and I thought my players would be okay with it, since they did rather enjoy fighting… but fighting divorced from any real story (the Gladiator Boss says “Fight” isn’t a story, and you and I both know it) apparently didn’t sit well with them. So I compressed the hell out of the Skill Challenge that they needed to do to escape.

Part One

So in the last fight I did a couple of things I’ve since found can be good to do… though really they were combined in this instance. One is including an alternative finish to a fight. The second is alternative ways to affect the battle … in this case the puzzle accomplished both … though of course, I didn’t leave any other options beside flight or failing. They certainly couldn’t kill all of the monsters, because they spawned indefinitely. 

Regardless, they won, got some magic items, including a magic map which was mostly just to make MY life easier. It didn’t show them everything about the world, far from it, but it did show everywhere they’d been, and other entities (like the Djinni) could update the map as well. If they’d investigated, it also would show them everywhere they’d been on a dungeon … again this was as much a conceit to keep things simple and not get bogged down in mapping. Important because while I love it, in general it’s the exception not the rule, … most folks could care less, and even if one or two of my players was excited to commit the adventurous locations to graph paper, the extra time it’d take would end up boring the rest of the party.

Part One

So they use ropes to get down and are finally in Dark Sun proper, so the only thing to do is hit ‘em with some scary desert creatures. I think it was a bunch of Baazrags, but it could have been some Jhakar. Either way they did a number on the mage, and then switched to the real threat, the BugBear … which was affectionately termed BugBear Whack-A-Mole because he got knocked out and then stood back up several times during the fight.

Then they wandered in the desert for a bit, using the port-key coin to determine the next likely appearance of the portal home. They headed west, where they found a practically dried up oasis, and one of their first puzzle fights. This one actually gave them a  bit of difficulty… basically it was a simple strimko puzzle (think super simple Sudoku) but each of the four “lines” controlled a spawning bed, from which swarms of creatures would pour every round. I don’t remember if I re-skinned Kanks for this or if they were Baazrag Swarms, but regardless they weren’t really much of a threat except they were being generated faster than the party could take them out. As the party solved the puzzle, the spawning beds closed up and the influx of enemies abated.

They rapidly solved the entire puzzle … theoretically, but practically they only had pieces to solve two of the lines and had to start searching the battlefield for more pieces and get them to the alter instead of fighting. Eventually they found all the pieces (and a few extras), solved the puzzle and met their first Djinn.

Part One

So yeah, I’ll admit, I’m not above using various tricks to provide the illusion of agency to the players when it wouldn’t be otherwise possible to give them actual real choices. In this case, hindsight I realize I didn’t really give them a choice… See they found two possible ways out of the buried castle of Astidax, and happened to choose the one that had a ridiculously difficult monster at the end. In this case, it was a Zombie Cactus or some such. Something that maybe, theoretically, if the party scored a couple crits they might be able to defeat. On the bright side, the thing was slow as balls, so when they realized just how nasty it was, they wisely fled back into the dungeon to check out the other route. The entire top of the butte was also covered in a minorly annoying in small quantities, but fairly deadly for Level 3 characters, terrain, specifically thorn-trees… sure it was only like 1hp damage per 5’, but it was, like … miles to the edge or something. They couldn’t really tell. So yeah, kind of a shit choice to offer, and I feel a little  bad in hindsight, but whatever, they escaped with no really serious injuries (okay, I think someone got bloodied w/ one hit, but they all LIVED, and bloodied is basically nothing in 4th.)

The other exit lead them to a small outcropping only a hundred feet or so off the the ground which also gave them a nice view of the area around in about a 100 degree arc.