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BT's Sword, Sorcery & Weird Fantasy campaign (AKA help I'm in over my head)


BlazingTornado
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Followups to The Keep for me have included X2, Castle Amber, which was truly whacky but needed a ton of fleshing out for the Averoigne section, and Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh.

 

If I ever play again I'd like to combine Saltmarsh with Bone Hill and take it in a Lovecraftian direction.

 

These are just suggestions, YMMV.

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KOTB was the start of the last campaign. It ran well beyond that into level 20.

 

I had considered Castle Amber for it (the cover art and premise of a castle full of mad nobles was appealing) but they lost me at the dimension travel, to be honest. Felt less like an adventure at that point and more a visit of Clark Ashton-Smith's setting.

 

Given the hook I gave them, I'm kind of stuck with road encounters and side distractions for the time being...

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I really want to figure out some overwhelming encounters that'd fit that flavor I'm aiming for.

 

Like... something they have no hope for beating but isn't out to kill them either.

Like some fey creatures that are just bothersome.

 

Or a tremendous dragon that just observes them for a while before taking off.

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Might be a bit much for levels 1-2.

 

Really considering having them meet that dragon and getting a face-full of his breath weapon.

https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/67720-unpainted-minis-from-wizkids/&page=108&tab=comments#comment-1867837

 

On 9/9/2019 at 2:13 PM, Madog Barfog said:

If I ever play again I'd like to combine Saltmarsh with Bone Hill and take it in a Lovecraftian direction. 

I have some familiarity with Saltmarsh but not with Bone Hill. What would that be like?

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On 9/9/2019 at 11:48 PM, BlazingTornado said:

 

 

I had considered Castle Amber for it (the cover art and premise of a castle full of mad nobles was appealing) but they lost me at the dimension travel, to be honest. Felt less like an adventure at that point and more a visit of Clark Ashton-Smith's setting.

 

That's exactly what it is. Obviously Tom Moldvay was a fan of CAS, but the connection is pretty tenuous ( Castle Amber is French and that's it) and what really bugged me was that 4 adventures based on his writing were crammed into 4 pages. I wrote an expansion with more pages than X2 about adventuring in Averoigne; PM me if anybody wants it.

 

Regarding Bone Hill, it's exactly what U1 isn't. U1 has a great adventure but nothing is devoted to the town or environs. Bone Hill is a sandbox adventure with a great town and what's  around it, but lacks any "big" adventure.

 

Most DMs find they work well together.

Oh, I forgot to mention it should be easy to discard the Averoigne section of X2. I don't remember if there is anything the PCs need to bring back, maybe the mirror, but it should be easy to substitute some other mechanism.

 

I think X2 is definitely worth playing, and found it worked well in my campaign. I especially enjoyed the French manor and all that went on within it. Very creative.

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Well we finally got to session bloody 2, after a quick retcon to introduce a different PC to replace the mammoth. The fighter didn't fall for the bait of the animated plate mail armor, but the new cleric character sure did! ::D:

 

Nobody died but it was funny to hear my player go "Can we say I DIDN'T put on the armor because you tricked me."

I didn't kill his character obviously but it was funny to see everyone try to get that heavy plate armor off the character. I had it disassemble like an Iron Man 3 suit of armor and re-form a bit further away to finish up the encounter.

I think it might have been a mistake because everyone is still so used to vanilla D&D I had to tell them "ignore the rules, tell me from a real-world standpoint, what would your character do?" and then we figured the rules/rolls to apply. It all worked out in the end.

 

They were reeeeaaaaally on edge about looting the other corpse further down the road after that. XD

They took the stuff but were wary of the studded leather armor.

 

Next up was the specter that killed the cadaver they just looted... they could have outright skipped the encounter but I guess they wanted to fight it on their own terms instead of letting it surprise them? Admittedly it started out as a weeping spirit before they attracted its attention. Had to fudge the 3d6 damage dice on the ONE successful hit it landed. (3d6 for a CR1!!!!)

Next came the quickling who stole their black box. I had fun having it blow a raspberry at the player character on watch before scamping off. They ended up splitting the party because the aarakocra has a 50ft flying speed. And instead of getting the player characters back to rescue the poor sacrifice, she stuck around till one tried to light the bonfire and cast Create Or Destroy Water to dampen the wood and put out the torches.

So the leader cast Sleep on her. As she flew. 90 feet overhead. Shoulda died right there from fall damage alone but I decided to just let her crash at the player's feet (who thankfully decided they should catch up).

 

And then the best moment. As they made their way to the cultists' clearing, one of the minions was up on the damp wood pile, with the victim taken down, dagger raised for the sacrifice. So the Roman fighter chucks his javelin, at disadvantage, scores the hit, for exactly the damage needed to drop the cultist.

That is the Sword & Sorcery imagery I crave for this campaign. The cultist's arm raised, dagger in hand, at a sacrificial victim, and the hero throws a weapon in desperation and scores the killing blow from behind.

Heck. Yes.

 

The remainder of the battle went adequately. Had to avoid specific party-wiping spells like Sleep because 3/4 of the party were well sticking close to each other and they would've just slept as the cultists focused on the rogue, and then wiped the rest one by one. Honestly one or two strikes to a prone enemy would've done em in... The perils of low level.

 

 

So that leaves the bullywug camp, the harmless dragon that'll blow a reefer breath in their faces (inspired by this) and the swarm of killer bees and giant killer bee for next session.

 

Likely the last encounter before leveling up to 2 will be with a Maw Demon that a group of religious types were trying to transport before it broke out and slaughtered them.

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Sounds like you are having a good time. 

 

The hero's javelin toss was pretty lucky. Definitely enjoy it, but realize it might not work out as luckily in the future. I always recommend more than one way out of a situation in case the players miss one.

 

Your campaign is not something I can assist with, but I like your ideas. Maybe because of the cult, but it sounds very Lovecraftian to me, and I like that a lot.

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1 minute ago, Madog Barfog said:

The hero's javelin toss was pretty lucky. Definitely enjoy it, but realize it might not work out as luckily in the future. I always recommend more than one way out of a situation in case the players miss one.

He was hoping for at least a distraction if his roll was a miss, and I would have granted it. But the dice gods smiled upon us and it was not only a successful hit despite the penalty, but a one-kill blow.

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In my case the TPK was avoided because I let a player not die from fall damage, and then I let the players avoid a Sleep that would've dropped three of them, leaving the four remaining villains to dispatch the rogue with relative ease and then pick off the sleeping ones easily.

Ah, the joys of level 1. Some of these spells are clearly intended for player use and not DM use. :lol:

 

 

I've come to my senses re: City State of the Invincible Overlord.

Decided to use a different map to distinguish my city and my overlord. This one just looks so overwhelmingly large, with the Overlord's walled in dwelling outsizing everything else.

https://www.deviantart.com/luned/art/Nir-alenar-214551350

Even has what can be considered a wizard's tower, one or more large temples to the city-state's chief gods, et cetera.

 

Dialing back a bit, trying to figure level 2 encounters. Definitely want one with a hungry ogre who wants to eat their horses.

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Session three of the campaign went well. They dealt with the aftermath of the cultists, snagged some cash, daggers (but not the cultist minions' sabers or money, though), the magic ring containing the Quickling (though they did nothing with it, probably because the only player character who witnessed its function was unconscious before the battle's conclusion).

Had some fun with the language barriers of the campaign setting, while there is a common tongue of sorts it's used more by tradesmen and people who would interact with foreigners a lot, and less by average folk.

 

They took the hook for the bullywug lair with ease, immediately sending the rogue to scout ahead through the lair. He decides to focus on their crude stone monument to Tsathoggua (whom the druid character has ties to as she went through an abridged version of the Tale of Satampra Zeiros as part of her backstory) and decides to just stab his dagger at it... which gives away his presence to the nearest bullywug hut. Encounter ensues obviously. And...

On 9/17/2019 at 9:02 PM, Madog Barfog said:

The hero's javelin toss was pretty lucky. Definitely enjoy it, but realize it might not work out as luckily in the future. I always recommend more than one way out of a situation in case the players miss one. 

I'll tell you what, early in the encounter only one of the 'wugs was in sight, far away, so the cleric held a sacred flame and the fighter held a javelin throw in case any other hostiles came in sight.

One came rushing towards them, nat 20'd out of the sacred flame only to be nat 20'd by the javelin throw. It was this beautiful moment again of the bullywug leaping out of the flame's path only to take that javelin through the neck, dropping dead in the murky waters of the swamp.

As much as the player favors lugging his halberd around (with sword and board for certain cases and javelins for range), he's very quickly becoming known for his amazing throw of the javelin.

 

The rest of the encounter went well, some of them were worried the old crone captive with permanent barkskin was a hag or an evil dryad but really she was just a relatively harmess old witch living alone in the woods.

They got excited at the kobold though, as they had a kobold ally last campaign who was killed towards the climax. But this one is more savage, and speaks none of their tongues, and eventually scampered off, but came back after they left the little tribe with their meager earnings (three handaxes and a gold nugget of indeterminate value, along with two candles of the deep given to them by the crone).

 

The Kuo-Toa who wanted nothing to do with combat, just wanted to haul off the stone with the Tsathoggua carvings, kind of stalled the adventure. Not in a bad way, mind you... they just got really hung up on it. They spotted them through the foliage, and didn't want to get too close, but also didn't want to leave, so there was just a lot of futile "Show yourselves!" and the druid trying to get everyone else to investigate because she wants to know what the carvings are! Eventually they stepped away from the stone enough that the five Kuo-Toa rushed out, meeping like anchovies on Spongebob (and my players LOST IT). The druid ended up futilely trying to ask the meeping fish-men what the rock meant as they left and she couldn't convince anyone else to follow them and get answers.

 

The final encounter was with the giant killer bee and the swarm of bees. The corpse along the road, little more than a skeleton picked clean, along with a less stripped horse, weirded them out. The rogue dropped quicky, but thankfully the poison damage from a giant wasp isn't fatal... so he's stable and paralyzed for an hour.

After the fight, the skeletal corpse sat up, taunted them by shrieking that they're all doomed, dooooomed before falling back to lifeless bones.

 

 

Next week, the Maw Demon... and whatever I cook up for 2nd level encounters. I kind of want to stick them in a quick dungeon crawl, the problem is they're on a delivery quest so it'd take something convincing to get them off the path...

Hm.

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Spent a good deal of time prepping up the 2nd level encounters...

 

First rest after the defeat of the maw demon will lead to a corpse rising from the nearby river (Drowned Blade from Ghosts of Saltmarsh) to assault the adventurers. Chalk it up to whatever is in that black box animating it, I guess.
(I actually have no idea what the hell is in that box, and part of me wants to keep it that way. The players seem to think it'll play an important part in the campaign and unless they open it beforehand, I have half a mind to just have it be delivered to the conjurer in the City State of the Invincible Overlord and that's the last they'll ever see of it)

 

Next day, an ogre will assault, mostly to try and take their horses for a meal.

 

After that, their little kobold tagalong will go diving into a small waterfall which hides a cavern with an ancient temple. A fungus-monster guards the corridors, strange tadpole creatures (slaadi tadpoles, though I may not establish these as actual slaadi) swimming in the murky water pools surrounding the temple, two ghouls tending to the temple and a berbalang who will attempt parlay if the adventurers defeat his spectral duplicate.

This one's definitely inspited by Clark Ashton-Smith, as I've been reading up his work of late.

 

Exiting the waterfall they'll come upon a noble and his entourage of thugs, guards, and his pet guard drake, who'll try and take whatever interesting treasure these adventuring folk might have gathered. I'm hoping the noble escapes this encounter and uses his position in civilization to hinder the PCs.

 

Last thing planned for now is a small shrine to Pelor by the road, which a priest of Asmodeus has decided to desecrate. The devout warriors and the priest of Pelor were slain, as were the barbarian hireling and cultist minion of the priest, while a young acolyte fled the shrine with what holy texts she could, and will implore the adventurers to deliver justice to the fiend-worshipper.

 

 

Thinking I need three more interesting encounters before 3rd level......

They've had mostly road encounters and a detour to a small tribe... maybe they could rest up at a more civilized village and something interesting happens there.....

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Pot dragon encounter went well... Fighter and Cleric overwhelimingly succeeded their con saves against the pot smoke breath, druid failed and kobold NPC crit failed so... NPC on a bad trip. ::D: Fighter had to manacle him for his own good. Druid was high for a good 3 hours.

It was great, because I mentionned before that dragons wouldn't be "structured" like they are in D&D for this campaign, but that's so hard-coded in a player that they were like "It's an evil dragon it'll kill us with poison!" until the breath came out. He just flew away under the cover of his reefer smoke afterwards.
"He got up really high", as a player recapped for the tardy player.

 

Decided to throw in a lacedon after the Drowned Blade fight. Mostly he was like "you gonna eat that?" at the re-killed Drowned Blade, but since he didn't speak their language it led to some funny moments of both it and the nearby PCs not really being sure how to approach it.

The lacedon taking a bite out of the corpse in front of them and waiting to see if they'd object grossed em out in character too.

 

Ogre encounter went well. Always fun to see the bird-person get wrecked at range. 2d6+4 javelin throws and all that. And the rogue dropped again from a well-rolled greatclub strike. It's becoming a pattern.

 

And the waterfall dungeon... well... the kobold went in with ease. The players, less so. They went in one by one, hesitant. And the rogue decided to stay out to guard the horses and the supplies.

"That'll come back to bite you."
"What, us or him?"
"Yes."

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