Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Session 2 - Center of Attention

 We start this session mid-battle, finishing up combat from last session. This post is in character

Since we had already dispatched most of the bandits in this inn, once the compulsion wore off,  I convinced this bandit--whom we decided to name “Scruffy” for some reason?--to give up the fight. Quilla shot him with a bolt of fire, saying “I’ll just kill him a little bit.” Fortunately, she didn’t ACTUALLY kill him. Most of his friends were dead, so he decided to listen to reason. After handing over his weapon, we decided to have a chat. 

I asked Scruffy to elucidate a bit on his earlier statement. He seemed to think that I was another one of those “chosen”, because the others “looked like me.” However, when I asked if he meant that they were drow as well, he was uncertain. He doesn’t know the word, and seems to be completely unfamiliar with dark elves, other than we are “not as pale as most elves.” Lovely. I’m inclined to believe that they ARE drow though, “Priestess of the Forgotten Dark” sounds like it would be some sort of drow order. Not one i’m familiar with though.

At any rate, Scruffy told us that these 7 other “chosen” were supposed to help the boss with some sort of ritual. They weren’t sure specifically what it was, but I doubt that even if they had given Scruffy a detailed written explanation, he still would not comprehend it. All he knows is that they needed the town “for its magic.” That’s not much of a shock, I guess. A town this small isn’t liable to attract a force of bandits this size for a score this small. So there’s someone with brains, and a plan, pulling the strings here. And this boss has plans that have to do with the ley-lines under the town. 

Turns out that this plan with the ley-lines of this town are a part of a ritual to raise Rylen-Razeth. A dracolich. I KNEW I had heard the name before, I just couldn’t place it earlier. To be fair, we were a bit under attack at the time. I guess their boss is someone we kinda knew a bit? His name is Xearthin. Grumpy darven fellow that was a cleric. I guess life has shifted quite a bit for him since all this weird memory business happened. He certainly never seemed like the type to try and summon and control a dracolich. If Xearthin thinks he’s going to control Rylen-Razeth, he’s in for a really rough time. Although, I suppose it could be Rylen-Razeth controlling or influencing him instead? There’s definitely precedent for long dead creatures of immense power to influence others from beyond, and Rylen-Razeth would fit the bill if he became a dracolich. This is going to require a bit more investigation and though, but for now, we have a job to do.

Apparently, Xearthin, in his incredible short-sightedness, is trying to use the Ever Dragon as some sort of vengeance upon a half-elf. A half-elf that plays a pan-flute. Once again the pan-flute comes into play. I wonder if they’re talking about the.. god? Whoever I vaguely remember. Damn this memory block we’re all having. Either way. Scruffy seemed to think that whatever Xearthin was angry at him for, it seemed like it happened a long time ago, or in some other place. He apparently spoke of towns a few towns... Whitehaven and Bellsport. The names don’t mean anything to me right off, but Scruffy also said he’s never heard of them. At this point, however, i’m not convinced that Scruffy had ever heard of a shower. He did say that Xearthin was bragging about things that don’t exist, weird fighting styles, and strange magic. He isn’t making a whole lot of sense anymore, and I feel like Scruffy’s well of information is very quickly running dry. I left Quilla to get any more information out of him that she could think of. Her brain works in strange ways, so she’s bound to think of a couple questions that I wouldn’t have. 

Right around this time, there was another bandit that Crash was... keeping entertained in one of the side rooms. He tried to make a break for it, and I was perfectly happy to let him. Just then, however, the tavern keeper decided to make himself known, quickly telling us that there were more of his ilk holding hostages in the few hovels set up to the south. Apparently they had already determined that if things turned sour in this area, they were going to cut ties, and the throats of any innocents who live here, before proceeding to what I can only assume is a plan B city. We may need to look into other areas that have a powerful nexus of ley-lines, but we have priorities. First, we take care of the Thorp.  

Since rescuing the townsfolk was half of the job, we couldn’t just allow him to make good on his escape and warn his friends. He was very nearly dead by the time he got close to the door, but at the last minute, I thought it best to let him hang out in the rafters for a little while with a well timed levitation. We finished getting whatever scraps of information we could from Scruffy, and I decided to have a chat with the floating gentleman. He truly didn’t have much more info than Scruffy. Clearly Xearthin was hiring muscle, not brains. He also confirmed the what the barkeep said about the hostages to the south. A troop of 10 or so waiting in the housing to kill the citizenry if anything went wrong. 

I decided to let the gentleman down from the ceiling, since he was feeling cooperative. He even decided to gikve me his sword. It only felt fair that I used it to kill him while we fed Scruffy to Abraxus’ spectre. Such a shame, but I guess those other guards to the south won’t get their warning after all. Strangely enough, Crash seemed to be a bit bothered by this turn of events. I never thought him the type to be, but maybe my memory of him is a bit off? I don’t know. I’m not too worried about it though. It was the logical thing to do. If we let either of them go, they would’ve either gone to the others to the south, or their boss to the north. None of these men were innocent, so I have no qualms with my decision to end their lives. Abraxus seemed to agree with me, and Quilla seemed mostly indifferent.  Azure and Anais didn’t have much to say one way or the other about the situation, but I feel that if they had, disapproved they would’ve said so.

Oh yeah. I guess we’re bringing this Ilex fellow with us. He even said he doesn’t want to get paid, he just wants a share of whatever treasure we get. We aren’t after any particular treasure at this point, but I didn’t feel it necessary to burden him with this knowledge. Although, he read the contract, so he has to know that… right? Either way, I don’t mind having him along. He’s kind of a loudmouth, but he seems useful in tight situations. I figure he will either continue to prove himself useful, or we’ll dump him off at some other town where he can go searching for his treasure somewhere else. Makes no difference to me. 

After Scruffy and… uh… Floating Guy were dispatched, we decided to take a quick breather and then go to the south and rescue the townsfolk. There were 3 buildings all branched out from a sort of center dirt road area. After a bit of discussion, I decided that I would use a little bit of the intelligence I got from Scruffy. Man… even writing that DOWN felt weird. Anyway. I decided to pose as one of the “Chosen” that Scruffy was talking about. He said they all looked like me, right? So, while most of the others hid I marched right into the center of all 3 buildings and called the soldiers out. Abraxus stood with me, but I don’t think any of them were going to question a Chosen and his bodyguard. 

I called the soldiers out under the pretense of preparing to leave the town. I had been sent to gather all of the remaining forces and take them to Xearthin so we could leave. Now, I feel like I should mention that this group of hired hands is not exactly what I would call a top tier group of mercenaries. I called out to them, and my calls were answered by about a dozen more winning personalities. They all came directly outside as I ordered. They lined themselves up as if they were preparing for inspection, but the way they did it clearly showed that these men were in it for the alcohol more than anything else. Three of their number appeared to be captains of a sort. Or, at least, they were outfitted in slightly nicer armor and their gear was in slightly better condition. These three took the front of their respective lines, one from each house, and fell in behind me as if to march up to see the boss. 

It was almost enough for me to feel sorry for them when the Abraxus started his incantation and the fireball soared over my head to obliterate the group behind me. I couldn’t see much of what happened, but I heard yells, and screaming, and then I heard nothing but smoldering earth and the remnants of darkened void. It was over in an instant. I guess that’s the trouble with hiring the most idiotic mercenaries you can find. None of them have the good sense to question when they’re being led into a kill box

The rest of this is out of character.

I wanted to attach a couple screenshots here from the tail end of our session, because it just happened too well, and I can't believe that ANY combat plan in D&D ended up exactly the way it was planned for. This may actually be the first time that that's ever happened.

This first image is from just as combat started. My character is the one just to the north of the center point of the red circle. Abraxus was two squares to my left. The greenish square is "Pass Without a Trace", cast by Azure, whom it is centered on. Quilla, Anais, and Abraxus' specter are to the eastern edge of that circle, as is Dancer - the familiar that Ilex uses. and Crash is to the far west of the circle, which his echo in the token just to the west of him. Ilex is standing off by himself in front of the east-most building. He didn't feel the need to be in Azure's spell because he cast invisibility on himself. The red circle that all of the unfortunate fools are in is the "Hunger of Hadar" that Abraxus used this to sort of trigger the surprise round.

And this... well... this is what happened at the end of the surprise round. 11 of the 12 in the first image are dead - the DM just hadn't removed the tokens yet when I took this screenshot. We ended the session after the surprise round, and even 3 days later, I am still in awe of just how well this plan worked.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Session 1 - Wake Up

This post is in character

I’ve decided to start writing things down, because today got really fucking weird. A lot of the surface folk use this cliche’, and it’s fitting enough, but it feels like waking up from a terrible dream. Only, i’m not in my bedroll or in a tent or even some quaint inn’s bed. I’m sitting upright in the camp, basically in the mid-meal? I may not actually NEED to sleep, but I do still appreciate being able to lie in comfort at night. This… whatever this is... is definitely not normal, even for one of my kind. Knowing my friends here as I do, I would venture to guess that they’re experiencing the same weird… whatever is happening that I am feeling. 

I’m not often found lacking the proper words to explain myself. In fact, if anyone manages to read this some day, i’m sure you’ll find I can be quite wordy. But right now, none of us have any idea what’s going on. It looks like we were making our way somewhere, and broke for lunch in a clearing in a wooded area off the main road. Oh, and in case the whole memory situation isn’t enough, there’s… bird tracks all over all of our equipment? On the tents, on the packs, on the bedrolls, everything we’re not actually wearing is covered in bird footprints. They don’t seem to be going any specific direction. Quilla says they’re crows, at least a couple hundred of them. I’m not sure how she can tell how many there are, but I’ve learned to trust her… bizarre insight into things like this. She can’t possibly have read a book about this, and yet somehow she just KNOWS things. It’s a bit off-putting until you get to know her better. 

I guess I should talk a little bit about my companions. Quilla is a half-elf, and one of the most well-read people i’ve ever met, and yet she is never satisfied with one particular course of study for long. It’s almost like she has the entire archives in her head, somehow, and yet it is almost shocking that she hasn’t managed to fall into a pit while her nose was in a book. This may sound uncharitable, but I have no hostility towards her. The way her brain works is utterly baffling to me though. How someone so learned can barely manage to walk three paces without tripping over a root or some such is beyond me.

Crash, as always, seems pretty unconcerned by the situation, but then Crash is pretty unconcerned by MOST situations. That isn’t to say he’s unemotional or cold or anything he’s just… Stoic. I assume that’s probably a common trait for minotaurs though. Things that make him think too much aren’t generally worth his time. Trust me though, you could not ask for a more formidable ally. His cleverness in battle is surprising, especially if you’ve ever held a conversation with him, but I am glad he’s on my side and not against it. 

Abraxus the black dragonborn is… Quiet. He always seemed quiet, and i’ve never been able to get a good read on him. I feel like he ascribes to the philosophy that it’s better to remain quiet and appear a fool than open one’s mouth and remove all doubt. He will, however, continually trade barbs with Crash. The pair have a very odd relationship, especially if you don’t know them, but somehow it works. They are an imposing pair, however, and they work well together in spite of the sharpness of their banter.

Anais is difficult to explain. She is legitimately one of the nicest people i’ve ever met, far more than most other High-Elves i’ve met, but I sometimes wonder if her brain wasn’t created on a different plane of existence. Not that she’s unintelligent, but there are times where she will trail off in mid-sentence as if her brain actually disconnects from her body and physically wanders off. She is also in the habit of talking to the moon, and according to her it talks back sometimes. I’ve never heard it before, but the surface people are full of interesting beliefs I suppose. I also think she has a bit of foresight sometimes. Or, maybe, SHE thinks she has some foresight. I’ve known her on several occasions to break a complete silence and spout out something that sounds almost prophetic. I’m not sure any of them have come true yet, but nevertheless, it’s odd.

But back to our bizarre circumstances. In addition to the puzzling bird stampede all over our campsite, there’s a pan-flute in the center of the camp, for some reason. It doesn’t belong to any of us, but it is RADIATING magic. Powerful magic. It seems to be fading, but it was clearly some sort of ritual focus for… something. And I can’t shake the feeling that this pan-flute is significant? somehow? I mean, it’s magical, so of course it’s significant, but more than just that. More than even a powerful enchantment. I just can’t seem to remember why it’s significant. There appears to be some kind of draconic script on it as well, but Abraxus said it was an ancient dialect that he couldn’t read. The magic is, as far as we can tell, shifting through all of the different branches, and immensely powerful, but fading. We took it with us for lack of any better idea. I don’t like the idea of leaving a powerful magical artifact just lying around when we don’t even know what it does. Crash wants to play the flute, because of course he does, but we were able to mostly dissuade him from that course of action. 

After talking for some time about how we got here, we discovered we were in the middle of a contract. We were hired by Lady Osra Silverthistle to rescue Tak’rin Pathseeker, an older human male, and get rid of a group of bandits that had overtaken the Thorp. Well… We’re not 100% certain that they’re bandits, but they’re probably bandits. Crash wants to talk to them first just on the off chance that they’re NOT bandits. I’m certainly not going to stop him if he’s so inclined. 

We camped a half a mile outside of town for the first night, so I decided to do some scouting after dark, since I see better than the rest of them. I’m still having a bit of trouble adjusting to trees out here because I missed one dead branch on the ground, stepped on it, and it almost sounded like a thunder crack. That caught the attention of a patrol. I wasn’t ready to make introductions just yet, so I tried to throw them off with some illusionary noises out to towards the road. And then I turned around and walked right into another tree branch. Not a good night for me. I made some more illusionary noises, making them decidedly person-sounding. I figured they may not be as anxious to get in a fight if they knew they were multiple people here. They retreated back to the town and I assumed they were going to get reinforcements, but they never returned.  During my watch for the night, I noticed that there was NO ambient noise around the town. No birds, no wildlife, no sounds of life at all. The Thorp is a relatively new settlement that sprang up over a ley-line running through the area. I’m still not sure if that was intentional or not. The next morning, I pointed out the lack of sound to everyone, and Quilla’s arcane senses determined that there is something wrong with the leylines here. They were tainted, somehow. We decide to go into town under the guise of magical researchers, to try and find any more information.

We entered a tavern that looked like it would be the first stop for travelers, and there was… a LOT of whom I assume were incredibly drunk bandits. They were listening to some halfling singing some song about Parun. They didn’t seem impressed, but Crash seemed to appreciate it. One of them tried to suggest that Quilla get on stage, because of course they did. Long story short, a bar fight broke out, and then a REAL fight broke out afterwards. The halfling bard, Ilex, ended up joining up with us in this fight. While we were dispatching most of the bandits, one paused long enough to ask me if I was “The Eighth”. I didn’t think much of it first, but he must’ve decided that I was NOT, in fact, the eighth, so he joined the attack with the others. Since this one showed an instinct to talk first, I decided that he could be of use to us alive. Or at least to me, anyway. I magically compelled him to tell me what he meant by “The Eighth.” He said:

“There are seven people under the Master who are helping to empower the Ever Dragon Rylen-Razeth. They are priestesses of the Forgotten Dark and I had mistakenly thought you to be the newest among them.” 

Rylen-Razeth. I recognize the name, but I can’t quite recall from where, but Abraxus had an absolutely furious reaction to hearing the name. I guess we’ll find out more when we’re finished with this battle. 

--Out of Character author's addition--

Arannis was not included because, as I mentioned in the session 0 post, he will be joining the campaign later on. He's hoping to get a schedule change at work soon, that will let him join us, but for the time being he's just going to be missing from the campaign.

I didn't mention Azure either because he didn't actually play with us when we originally started. Also, he couldn't make the first session cause of some prior commitments. He should be joining us going forward, but I didn't want to talk too much about a character I don't know much about. 

Ilex, unbeknownst to us until a couple hours into session 1, is actually someone else most of us have played with previously. He will be joining the campaign as a party member going forward, and i'll be sure to include him in the party members page soon.

This post ended up being a LOT longer than I originally expected, but that's ok. There was a fair bit of stuff to go over, and it was a longer than normal session for us anyway. Going forward, they shouldn't be this long. Or maybe they will be, who knows. I hope you enjoy reading.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Session 0 - Introduction

[Your heart drops, you can feel your body go cold with fear. You’re not used to fear, but your body seems to know that you’re going to die, and despite your skills and abilities there’s simply nothing you can do about.

Searing heat and cold stone crashes down upon you.

With a small gasp you look around. You’re no longer in a large cave, you’re not facing your death before a raging ancient elemental.

Instead, you realize you’re sitting in a clearing, with five other familiar faces. You know these people, and you know that they had all surely died standing beside you as the elemental’s primal magic killed you all. Confusion keeps you all silent for a long moment as the events of the last few weeks replay in your mind.

The – god? – with the pan flute, the dwarf that was his cleric, the town that flourished one moment and was charred the next, and traveling to another plane. These events skitter across your thoughts. Fights, mazes, monsters, puzzles, strange traveling companions you can’t place having known before, and spells that you’ve never heard of before. Even though you know you were fighting along-side your friends, some details weren’t right: names were wrong, races were wrong, fighting styles were impossible – but you know they had been themselves.

The events and passage of time feel so real that it’s disorientating. Still-warm half-eaten bowls of stew in the camp site seem proof enough that whatever happened – it hadn’t taken long. Confusion on the faces of your companions makes it clear that whatever ailed you, had happened to them as well.

But how did you get here? You don’t remember breaking camp, you’re not even sure why you’re all traveling. Common sense says you’ve got a job – you’re all pretty good about not pissing off the local, or even the not so local, authorities – so it’s not likely you’re on the run.

You remember completing your last job, and you must’ve had time to get repairs and provisions – your gear is in good working order, your rations are fresh, and no one seems road weary.

What in the name of Theria’s Children happened?]

So a little background on the campaign here. This is a homebrew campaign setting, that originally began in 2014, but went on hiatus for several years because of the DM's work responsibilities. Most of us all play in a couple campaigns together, so when our other campaign wrapped up in July, we decided to bring this one up again. Since this is a campaign that isn't COMPLETELY starting at square one, we are starting at level 7. We are an established party that has worked together and all know each other and trust each other, so a lot of the pre-hiatus stuff is going to be handwaved a bit. The italicized intro up above was written by the DM as a way of bridging the original campaign to what we're going to be currently playing in. There is probably a LOT of context that will need to be given to posts as I go along, and I will try to give some context when needed. For instance, in the above reference to "Theria's Children"--that's referring to the gods of the campaign setting. Theria is the Eldest, and created all the other gods, her children. 

See? Context.

So, that said, let's introduce the cast of characters:

Abraxus - Dragonborn Hexblade Warlock

Anais - High-elf Grave Cleric

Arannis - Eladrin Scout Rogue - He will be joining us later in the campaign due to work conflicts

Azure - Eladrin Horizon Walker Ranger 

Crash - Minotaur Echo Knight/Barbarian 

Thiride - Drow College of Eloquence Bard - This is my character

Quilla - Half-elf Phoenix Sorcerer

I will also have the party names listed in a side-linked page, so you don't have to dig through for my session zero post to see what names are going along with who and what. 

The idea for this blog sprung up from taking some notes, for my first time, on this campaign's first session the other day. After the session ended, I was looking through the notes and realized that I wrote them in first person. So that started kicking the idea around of making an actual sort of journal or diary from my character's POV, and THAT led to the idea of blogging. Before I knew it, well... here I am, and here you are I guess. I think *most* of my after-session posts will be in-character, but not every one will. I'll make sure to specify when a post is in-character or not. I may also, occasionally, have guest posts from the other players, if they're interested. Since we only play every 2 weeks, I will try to intersperse additional posts to give background info for the characters, or give context to some things that may warrant a full post. Or, I may just want to talk about a bunch of things D&D related, but not campaign specific. Who knows what I'll do? I certainly don't. So, welcome! I hope you enjoy reading what I have to blather about.