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Tag Archives: The Increasing Misnamed Dungeons and Dragons Campaign

Part One

Not exactly a sexy sounding name for a magical artifact is it? Well here’s what it did, it told the bearer where he really was, and it also would let you discover the true location of anyone nearby. Hmm… that doesn’t make it sound any better. Well I certainly didn’t spell it out for my players explicitly. Indeed, it was several minutes of confusion before they realized that what the amulet was telling them was that where they were was somewhere else. 

Now I’ve hinted at this before (and talked about it w/ several people IRL) but at this point my players still didn’t know that D&D was simulation took keep their brains stimulated for the duration of the space voyage while their bodies were in cryostasis. It would have made it a lot easier to explain what the amulet did, which was cross-index in-simulation location with cryostasis chamber locations. More simply, it would allow them to wake up from the simulation to the “real world.”

It also had some basic magic properties, I think maybe an Amulet of Protection, and maybe something else besides. I may have mentioned I like creating custom magic items, and I doubt this was an exception… but I don’t remember super clearly, and my “notes” while never clearly organized, aren’t easily accessible at the moment.

Part One

So obviously the actual encounters the party had in this dungeon weren’t too memorable, because I don’t remember them… overshadowed I guess by the party figuring everything out. I seem to remember it involved a bit of undead/horror type monsters. Again they skipped most of the encounters that were prepped, but there were still puzzles.

And of course they solved the puzzle, acquire the amulet, and that’s when I enacted standard DM Dick move 34a. The secret door they came through closed, and it was a one way door. Now, I wasn’t really being that much of a jerk, I know for a fact one of the characters has some pretty busted stealth, and I was actually kind of hoping to highlight that and have him sneak back around and open the door from the other side or at least fight one last encounter against some undead and then brute force a solution… but no need. One of my players had breaching armor, which allowed him to teleport through the door, and open it from the other side.

Part One

So I missed a few updates due to a queuing issue. Oops. It’ll probably happen again. /:

Anyways, the party had a map of the ruins, but it wasn’t a complete map. It didn’t list the location of the monsters, though they did know where the amulet they were searching for was located. So I’m going to take a break from strict recounting of events, and talk about DMing techniques for a bit.

See for this bit of the campaign I gave the players an invisible choice. If they solved the puzzle they could make much easier progress, if they didn’t spot the clues they’d have to brute force it which would take longer and be considerably more difficult. In this case the “clue” was some weird formatting on the map. Specifically a dead end passage that cut out a good 2/3rds of the route to the amulet if it wasn’t a dead end.

Had this been a traditional dungeon crawl, where they were mapping as they went along this little oddity in the map would have gone unnoticed until they’d already traveled all the way around the long way, and the short cut wouldn’t have helped at all. Unless they’d made some passive perception checks or something. 

On the other hand, having a full map the perception check was on the players’ part, not the characters’. Fortunately the players DID notice the oddity and decided to investigate. This is where it breaks down of course. Is this too meta? Unfair? If the players hadn’t noticed, should I have given an insight check (passive or secret) to suggest it? 

This being D&D, if they hadn’t noticed, I’d have let them push on and solve the majority of the dungeon, instead of being able to traipse through and skip a good portion of it. I wouldn’t have been sad, because while they may have missed my clever little clue, they were still fighting all of the encounters I’d prepared.

However they DID notice, and even though that meant they skipped more than half of the dungeon, it didn’t really make me sad either because that meant my clue was obvious enough. It wasn’t too obvious though, because they spent a good bit of time discussing their plan of action before they even notices the ambiguity.

What do you think? Rewarding cleverness with short-cuts? How game breaking is it to leave puzzles for the players rather than the characters?

Part One

So: Djinni diplomacized, Kanks Captured, the party headed to the City, did some investigation, sold (or at least appraised) various dragon bits, or turned them into magic items. The eventually sussed out the location of the Ruins and headed out to plunder them.

Woe unto the party, no simple dungeon crawl this! Arriving at the ruins they find a ancient temple to some unimaginable horror. Monstrosities from beyond time and space carved on the giant onyx blocks that make up the pyramid. The works. Except, the blasted thing is being disassembled. Just like all those pics we’ve seen of the pyramids being constructed by thousands of slave, except in reverse. Apparently the Shadow King wants this eldritch ruin for his own purposes. Regardless, slaves, guards, and other minions abound, making it nigh impossible for the party to just waltz in, kill everything and loot the artifact they’re looking for.

No real problem though. They’ve got a master of disguise (aka a doppleganger) and balls of steel. They approach a harried looking task master, announce that they are a surprise inspection from the Shadow King himself, demand that their mounts are fed and stabled and basically bluff their way in.

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.