Tyranny of Dragons

Tyranny of Dragons, Session 2: Raiders' Camp

Here’s what happened in last night’s Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Each PC gets 500 xp, enough to reach 3rd level.

11th Mirtul, 1490 DR

An hour before dawn, the PCs hear cries coming from the battlements of the keep. The raiders appear to be getting ready to leave, but a fearsome blue-scaled half-dragon has approached the keep. This is Langdedrosa Cyanwrath. Surrounded by his kobold honour guard, he calls for Greenest’s champion to come forth and face him in single combat. In exchange, he will release four pitiful prisoners – a woman and her three children. Ug is, of course, eager to fight the half-dragon and marches out of the keep right away; the rest of the PCs follow at a safe distance. Cyanwrath is true to his word, releasing the two youngest children before the start of the fight, while his kobolds hold knives to the throats of the other two captives to ensure fair play from the adventurers.

The battle begins. Unfortunately, the half-dragon is fastest, breathing a line of lightning at the paladin which he can only partly dodge. Then, Ug closes to melee and strikes the half-dragon with his axe. Cyanwrath slashes twice in return, reducing the half-orc to below 0 hp, but his relentless endurance allows him to stay on his feet. Ug lands a critical hit on the evil warrior, but then falls to the half-dragon’s sword. Cyanwrath strides into the darkness, as the kobolds release the other two prisoners, laughing at the paladin’s fate. Gwastdyn rushes to Ug’s aid and heals him.

With the raid finally over, the PCs have a few drinks and collapse into bed, exhausted. Gwastdyn is completely out for the count so Rosie takes the opportunity to shave off the dwarf’s eyebrows and moustache while he snores away.

In the early afternoon, the PCs are woken up by a knock on the door. Governor Nighthill has come to ask them to follow the raiders to their camp and bring back information on their leaders, numbers and intentions, offering them 250 gp each (!) from the town treasury. He tells the party that an injured monk is also waiting to speak to them in the courtyard. Gwastdyn refuses to get up, so the others go and talk to the monk alone. The lisping young fellow introduces himself as Nesim Waladra and explains that his master, Leosin Erlanthar, has been captured by the raiders. Leosin, a member of the Harpers, had been trying to find out as much as possible about the dragon cult in the library at Candlekeep and had come to Greenest to spy on them. When the others tell Gwastdyn this, he is keen to get going straight away – Leosin is an old friend who once saved his life.

The PCs travel across the Greenfields, following the numerous tracks of the cultists. After a few hours, the gently rolling hills give way to rugged terrain as the trail winds between steep-sided rocky plateaus. Up ahead, the party spot a thin column of smoke from a campfire. As they get closer they can hear the sound of raised voices – a group of raiders are arguing over the best way to cook prairie hens. Ug rushes up the slope to get a better view, with the others close behind. The PCs are able to attack the four humans and eight kobolds with surprise, defeating them easily. Two of the kobolds run away but Gwastdyn chases after them in his bear wild shape and kills them before they can warn any of their allies in the main camp.



Crake had knocked one of the humans unconscious so he can be interrogated. Unfortunately, Ug loses patience and smashes the prisoner’s head in before he can tell the PCs anything useful.

Back on the trail, the PCs enter an area where the tracks head through a narrow gap between two rocky outcrops. Suspicious, the party manage to spot a group of cultists lying in wait in the rocks above the path before they attack. Turin casts sleep, taking two of the cultists out, and the PCs climb up to the rocks and attack the cultists in melee. Two of the cultists are acolytes and use command to force Crake and Ug to jump back down again, suffering falling damage in the process, but the party are able to make fairly short work of their enemies.

Turin kills one of the sleeping cultists, then the PCs interrogate the other one. Rosie leads the questioning, banging a piton into the cultist’s hand to encourage him to talk. This tactic proves effective and the warlock learns there are actually two half-dragons among the cultists and that the main camp is less than a mile away. After unpinning the cultist's hand, she also learns the five-fingered cult salute (“Praise Tiamat’s glory!”).

After a short rest, the PCs move up to the horseshoe-shaped hollow where the raiders have set up their camp. Gwastdyn wild shapes into a cat and scouts around, identifying the tents of the kobolds, three mercenary groups (the Storm Blades, the Red Suns and the Dark Sails), the cultists, and the command tent. He can hear voices inside the latter speaking in Draconic. He also spots a well-guarded cave and the place where Leosin is tied to a wooden cross. He returns to the others to report.

The adventurers decide to dress in the cultist garb they’d taken from the ambushers, and masquerade as returning raiders with Ug as their prisoner. They make their way past the kobolds without too much trouble and, through talking to several cultists, work out that the truly-dedicated make a three-fingered (rather than five-fingered) salute to Tiamat. Some of the Dark Sails recognise Ug from his duel with Cyanwrath but fall for the PCs’ story that they are taking the half-orc to Frulam Mondath.

Crake suggests causing a distraction to allow them to approach the well-guarded cave without being detected. Turin uses minor illusion to make it sound like the Red Suns are attacking the Dark Sails while Gwastdyn sets fire to one of the Dark Sails’ tents with produce flame. This creates enough of a kerfuffle for the PCs to reach the cave, but the guards on the entrance do not let them in despite Rosie’s persistence. No one is allowed into “the nursery” without permission from Rezmir, the female black half-dragon who is the overall leader of the raiders.

The PCs decide it’s too dangerous to try and get into the command tent and retreat to a cave in the cliff wall to keep watch. When a young messenger returns from the leaders’ tent, they grab hold of him and drag him into their cave for questioning. They learn that Rezmir, Mondath, Cyanwrath and a red-robed human wizard are in the tent, and that the cult are planning to head north in a couple of days with the loot they’ve captured. The PCs tie up their prisoner and wait for dark.

Turin climbs up the cliff wall and secures a rope, while Crake and Rosie take position at the bottom. Meanwhile, Ug and Gwastdyn cut the grateful Leosin free from his bonds and help him down. They hustle back to the others and make their escape. As the last PC reaches the top of the cliff, Leosin’s absence is spotted by the cultists and the alarm is sounded. The heroes hurry away into the night.


12th Mirtul

The PCs arrive back in Greenest with Leosin who has filled them in on everything he knows about the cult. Nesim and the other monks are overjoyed to see their master alive, and Governor Nightfall pays the party their promised 250 gp each, praising their courage and daring.


Pic by Gog Magog
Tyranny of Dragons

Tyranny of Dragons, Session 1: Greenest in Flames

Here’s what happened in our first session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen yesterday.

Each PC earns 400 xp, enough to reach 2nd level.



Introducing Our Heroes

  • Crake Crozier, human rogue, charlatan

  • "Flotsam" Rosie Fleisch, half-elf warlock, pirate (sailor)

  • Gwastdyn Strakeln, shield dwarf druid, outlander

  • Turin Elinast, moon elf bard, entertainer

  • Ug St. John Smith, half-orc paladin of Ilmater, acolyte



10th Mirtul, 1490 DR

After travelling for several days across the Greenfields, guarding the wagon of optimistic merchant Samardag the Hoper, the PCs arrive at the town of Greenest at sundown, only to find it under attack from a dragon. Ug rushes into town to investigate; the others follow, leaving Samardag and his wagon at the side of the road.

Ug charges down the main road, closely followed by Gwastdyn; Rosie, Crake and Turin are more cautious and decide to follow the stream to the south into town. The half-orc and the dwarf soon run into a family being chased by four kobolds. It’s too late to save the woman, but the pair kill the kobolds and rescue her husband and three children. Meanwhile, the other group have encountered a second band of kobolds accompanied by an ambush drake. Turin and Crake go unconscious, leaving it to Rosie to stand alone. Fortunately Crake rolls 20 on her death save and comes round, then Gwastyn and Ug arrive to help. The druid heals Turin, Crake stabs the drake through the head, killing it, and the party are able to defeat the remaining kobolds. They hide in a house with the farmer Cuth Swift and his three children and have a short rest. Cuth tells the PCs they need to try and reach the safety of the keep.

Sneaking though the brush by the stream, the PCs lead Cuth and his kids towards the keep, with Ug carrying the body of Linan. Open ground lies between their position and the castle, so Turin uses his disguise kit to make the children look as much like kobolds as he can while the rest of the party and Cuth pretend to be cultists. The group are challenged by a patrol of raiders but manage to bluff their way past to reach safety. The doors of the keep are barred shut behind them as soon as they are inside.

Governor Nighthill is up on the parapet at the top of the keep and fills the party in on what’s been happening. The governor asks the PCs to open up the old tunnel which runs from the cellar to the stream so it can be used as a secret route in and out of the keep. After some persuasion, he gives them a potion of healing to take with them on their mission, and suggests they try and bring back a prisoner to interrogate. The party are taken down to the cellars by the castellan, Escobert the Red, and given the keys to the tunnel doors. The PCs battle two swarms of rats in the tunnel, then open the grate at the other end. They encounter a group of cultists and kobolds by the banks of the stream, defeating them quickly and taking one of the humans prisoner.

The PCs take their prisoner back to the keep where he is interrogated – Escobert and Ug take it in turns punching him until he tells them all he knows. The party learn that he is a member of the Cult of the Dragon, the raiders are in Greenest to collect loot "for the great hoard that will usher in the reign of the Queen of Dragons”, and they are led by a woman called Frulam Mondath. The dragon flying overhead is an ally but not under her command.

By now it is midnight and the governor sends the adventurers to rescue the townsfolk trapped inside the temple of Chauntea which is under attack from three groups of raiders. The PCs sneak through the bushes alongside the stream to reach the church without being detected, then use the smoke from the fire the cultists have started at the back door to provide concealment as they attack with surprise. Crake picks the lock on the door and the party goes inside. After some shouting they manage to calm down the panicking townsfolk with the help of Eadyan Falconmoon, the priest, and get them through the door to safety before the raiders manage to smash down the front door.

Back in the keep, the governor again asks the PCs for help – this time he wants them to stop the attackers burning down the town mill. This time, the party what kind of payment they can expect in exchange for their services. Governor Nighthill is a bit disappointed but gives them a second potion of healing and promises them a reward when the town is saved. Satisfied our heroes head for the mill but when they get there and see that the building isn’t really on fire, they are suspicious. Rosie scouts ahead and spots a pair of cultists lurking on the upper floor. Deciding it’s a trap, the PCs return to the keep as they can see the dragon is now circling around the tower.



The PCs hurry to the roof and make a few ineffective ranged attacks on the great blue dragon as it swoops in to breathe lightning on the defenders. Luckily, the party are unscathed, but several brave town guards are killed instantly. Rosie – who has experience of firing a ballista from her time as a pirate – shoots at the terrible beast, scoring a critical hit! The dragon decides that it’s not worth tangling with the adventurers and maybe getting wounded again. He flies off, leaving Greenest. Relieved, the adventurers go back downstairs for a much-needed short rest.
Green Man

Making My First Numenera Character

For the last few weeks, I’ve been reading the Numenera core rulebook. This is one of a number of RPG books I’ve bought in PDF in the last year, often at sale prices from drivethrurpg.com or via Bundles of Holding, and I’m slowly working my way through reading them. I don’t think I’ll get the chance to play or run Numenera any time soon, so thought I’d create a character.

One of the cool concepts behind Numenera is how your descriptor (the adjective that describes your character),  type (character class), and focus (what your character is all about) combine into a sentence like this:

Rafiq is a mystical (descriptor) nano (type) who explores dark places (focus)

So if another player asks you to tell her about your character, you’ve got this sentence to sum him or her up. Very neat.

Each of these three elements gives your character some abilities as you’d expect:

The nano is the Ninth World’s equivalent of a wizard or sorcerer, so Rafiq knows about the numenera – relics of past worlds that can be found while adventuring – and gets to use esoteries – magic-like special abilities that fit in with Numenera’s science fantasy setting. I picked Ward which gives Rafiq +1 armour – handy as I don’t think he’ll be wearing any – and Onslaught which allows him to attack an enemy he can see with either a ray of force or a mental blast.

Being a nano also determines Rafiq’s stats. There are only three in Numenera – Might, Speed and Intellect. Each has a starting value and I get 6 points to divide between them. Rafiq has 9 Might, 11 Speed and 14 Intellect. I also choose a nano connection for Rafiq – he studied at a school infamous for its dark, brooding instructors and graduates. He’s not going to be a jolly soul.

The Mystical descriptor gives Rafiq +2 Intellect, bringing his pool to 16, and gives him another esotery – Hedge Magic – pretty similar to prestidigitation in D&D. He can also sense “magic” around him but his moody, introspective nature makes it hard for him to make friends – tasks involving charming and persuading others are one step harder. Rafiq’s descriptor adds to his background too – I decide a dream has guided me to wherever the first adventure starts.

Each PC's focus is meant be what’s unique about him, so there shouldn’t be another PC who Explores Dark Places in Rafiq’s party. His focus makes Rafiq’s esoteries dark – almost silent, and any visual effects are shadowy. Cool. He’s trained in climbing, balancing and jumping, as well as searching and listening, and gets some bonus gear including an explorer’s pack. Handy for anyone who likes poking around in dangerous ancient ruins. I need to choose another PC as a former adventuring partner and Rafiq will get +1 to die rolls when the two of them collaborate on a task or attack the same foe.



Rafiq is obviously going to wear a black, hooded cloak over dark clothes; I choose a rapier as his weapon. He also gets three cyphers and two oddities from his type and descriptor. Cyphers are very cool one-use items, bits of ancient tech that can be found in ruins and other locales throughout the Ninth World. Rafiq can only bear three of them at any one time – the game activley encourages players to use these, rather than hoarding them.

Rafiq has a psychic communique (a metallic disk on his forehead which allows him to send a one off, one way telepathic message of up to ten words to anyone he knows), a temporal viewer (a wristband which shows, in sounds and images, events that took place at the current location up to a year ago), and a visual displacement device (a belt which projects holographic images to confuse attackers).

Oddities are like 5e’s trinkets, interesting little items that don’t have game effects. Rafiq has a lightning bug in a glass globe and a rose made of nigh-indestructible glass. Maybe he’ll find a use for these items on his adventures, or will be able to trade them with someone?

And that’s it. Character creation was fun and straightforward, and I’ve ended up with an interesting PC with some nice background elements to think about and a handful of cool abilities and one-shot items to use in the game. I've still not got my head round Numenera's rules system, but making a character has certainly got me excited about the game.

So, when do I get to play him? ;)
Green Man

Village Backdrop: Red Talon

It's not a Parsantium book, but if you like my stuff, why not check out Village Backdrop: Red Talon, the pirate village I wrote for Raging Swan Press?

Village Backdrop: Red Talon

Here's the blurb:

Huddled in a sheltered cove at the base of lofty cliffs, the tiny village of Red Talon is inaccessible by land for all but the best climbers. Its folk are insular and vague rumours lay cannibalism and devil‐worship at their door—with good reason. Founded by the vicious pirate captain Hagruk Stormrider Red Talon hides a vicious, depraved cult dedicated to the unholy, cannibalistic worship of the little-known Ukre’kon’ala.

Adventurers often come to Red Talon—not to battle the hidden cult—but for the pirate booty said to lie in the waters just off the coast. Twenty years ago, Hagruk and his entire crew went down with his ship and now rumours of glittering treasure yet lying among the wreck of his galleon bring many to the village. Few leave… Village Backdrops are short, richly detailed supplements that each present a single village ready to insert into almost any home campaign. Perfect for use as a waystop on the road to adventure, as an adventure site themselves or as a PC’s home, Village Backdrop present the details so the busy GM can focus on crafting exciting, compelling adventures.

You can also read an extract at Raging Swan's site.
rakshasa

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #66: A Hard Won Victory

Here's what happened in last night's final session of the Ongoing Adventures of the Juma Gang. Each PC gets enough xp to reach level 21 and the epic tier.

The Juma Associates climb the ancient paved road towards the ring of stone pillars. Hrothgar checks his map of unseen lands: ahead is the vast snow-covered peak where Vrishabha lies trapped in the ice, waiting to be freed. A great stone arch crosses the road, guarded by three rakshasas. Hrothgar charges in, followed by the others, and they are quickly dispatched.

From here, the road leads steeply upwards to a large round stone platform about a hundred feet in diameter. Nine great rock pillars, over 40 feet high and irregularly-shaped surround the platform, forming a circle of stone. Within the ring of pillars are eleven rakshasas – some have the heads of tigers and other great cats, others are foxes or vultures – and Gyeltsen, a yakfolk sorcerer.

These rakshasas are led by Avishandu (the Fourth Tribune and Boss of All Bosses); also present is the infamous Heinsoo, Aurius Kalothese (Tribune of the Imperial Quarter) and Mardinuya (once the deva Samael who discovered that Srivatsa’s Bow and the Arrows of Hanuman could be used to free Vrishabha).

Avishandu mocks the Juma Associates for their naivety and stupidity: “Before we kill you, I’d like to thank you for freeing so many of our servants from the curse that trapped them in bovine form. You really have made things so much easier for us. Now, prepare to die in agony.” Hrothgar responds with a bloodthirsty threat of his own and battle is joined!

Heinsoo shoots Hrothgar with his poisoned crossbow, then Juma is bloodied by a hail of arrows from the rakshasa warriors standing between the pillars. Gil takes down two of these archers with magic missile, then brave Juma charges in, only to go down from multiple sword attacks from Mardinuya and Aurius. Hrothgar also charges the rakshasas, despite being slowed by the poison, and Jenma attacks an archer with acid orb, while Ulthar moves forward to heal Juma. Unfortunately, Avishandu’s misleading visions send him reeling backwards and the Urskovian warlord’s carefully planned tactical sequence is in tatters. He does manage to heal the genasi but not much – Aurius’ deadly aura of doom prevents healing magic from functioning at full strength.

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Vashnawi and Gil kill two more warriors, but now Hrothgar is in trouble, falling unconscious to attacks from Mardinuya, Heinsoo and Aurius. Marduniya’s cloying words dominate Ulthar but fortunately Jenma is on hand to slap the warlord in the face and snap him out of it. Still bloodied, dazed and prone, Juma teleports away from the rakshasas; he’s hit by Gyeltsen’s withering staff and weakened. Wisely, he decides to use his mask of the impish grin to hide.

As Ulthar goes to heal himself, the dagger with a gold dragon’s head hilt he’s been wearing on his belt for months, transforms into its true form – that of a snake-like raktavarna rakshasa – and bites him in the leg. The nasty creature’s mindbite again throws his plans into disarray and he growls in frustration, before pulling himself together and smashing the raktavarna to a pulp with his great axe. Meanwhile, a dao blademaster appears from the stone, summoned by the yakman, and attacks Vashnawi. The pair continue to fight each other at the edge of the stone platform for the rest of the encounter.

Jenma is pulled towards Aurius with his phantom lure and attacked, but the dragonborn turns one of the rakshasa’s sword blows back on him with chaos echoes. Gil casts ice storm to create his signature zone of icy terrain around the rakshasas, then follows up with furious immolation on the following round to burn Aurius, Mardinuya and Gyeltsen. “Bring me my great axe” rings out in the mountain air, and Hrothgar is healed as Heinsoo steals the escalation die with reversal of fate. The gnoll enters the hydra rage, his axe darting and biting like the hydra’s many heads as he attacks the rakshasas.

IMG_6229

Aurius has been bloodied but Juma unbloodies him when he rolls his gambler’s die. Then, Mardinuya bloodies Jenma, allowing her to strike back with aspect of the dragon. At the end of the round, Ulthar attacks four opponents in turn with path of storm, killing Avishandu and Aurius. Gil turns to stone after being hit with Gyeltsen’s diamond bonds, while Juma is tricked into attacking an illusionary duplicate instead of the real Heinsoo. Hrothgar falls unconscious and is dying again. Jenma slays Mardinuya with twin bolt.

Ulthar heals everyone, rallying them to his warlord’s banner and grabs the Arrows and Bow from the stone altar. Next, he unleashes his warmaster’s assault and Hrothgar and Juma charge Heinsoo as the Urskovian takes down Gyeltsen. With her master slain, the dao vanishes.

Only Heinsoo is left standing, but not for long as Hrothgar uses his final confrontation to slain the party’s arch-nemesis.

With the rakshasas vanquished, Vashnawi leads the PCs in an hour long ritual to destroy the Arrows and Bow. As they sustain their om chants, dark storm clouds gather overhead. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning flashes down, striking the altar and blowing the two weapons into smithereens!



Epilogue

Now the final adventure of the Juma Associates is over, our heroes go their separate ways.

Gil returns to Forathin to his father Paelias, in the hopes that his magical knowledge and prowess will at last impress him.

Hrothgar travels to the Great Grass Sea in search of a legendary totem which will unite the gnoll packs of the steppes under his rulership as Khan of All Gnolls. A confrontation with Urgedai the Kinslayer seems inevitable.

Jenma tracks down her sister Sora and persuades the paladin to go on a new adventure with her.

Juma steals the secret formula for Parsantine Fire but Ulthar persuades him not to give it to Sheikh Babak al-Hasid. As punishment for his failure, Juma is forced to serve as a pleasure slave among the nomads for a year and day.

Ulthar goes into politics with the ambition of becoming the first Urskovian to sit on the Inner Council. The Old Quarter tribune, Murad al-Rumi vouches for him, and Juma helps his comrade’s political campaign behind the scenes with a few dirty tricks.


Pics by Gog Magog
rakshasa

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #65: A Costly Retreat

Here's what happened in Sunday's game – the penultimate session in the campaign. Each PC gets enough xp to reach 20th level.

11th December (contd)

With trepidation, the Juma Associates enter the fiery temple of Imix beneath the ground floor of the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. Here, they are confronted by Simsek (fire genasi Chosen of Imix), Dhalal (efreeti flamestrider), a conflagration orb and four azer. The Chosen urges Jh'od to side with the Eternal Flame. When this is ignored, he summons harginn (fire) grues in front and behind the party, which burn the PCs standing next to them.

Ulthar manoeuvres around the back to get into a flanking position while Hrothgar charges in, and is quickly surrounded by azer flamewards, taking 97 hp damage in a single round of attacks. Gil teleports on top of a plinth, taking position against a temple wall, while Jh’od casts his thundering vortex on the azer pyromancer and the flying conflagration orb.

The relentless attacks on Hrothgar drop him below 0 hp but uses his deathless frenzy to keep going, then Ulthar heals him before he has to make a death save. Meanwhile, Gil uses the handglyph the party found in the geomancer ruins in Sampur to blast his enemies with thunder and lightning. As the battle rages, he spots another azer sneaking around the fringes of the battle behind the party – only afterwards do the Juma Associates realise this was Heinsoo in disguise, searching for Srivatsa’s Bow.

unnamed


Jenma’s azure talons inflict a critical hit on the efreet who is now bloodied, as is the azer pyromancer, but all of the PCs’ enemies are still standing. Then, the Chosen’s fiery orb knocks Gil unconscious; luckily, Ulthar’s martial healing powers bring him round and provide much needed solace to everyone else.

Hrothgar has got the (fire) horn so he blows it, making the genasi, efreet and azers no longer immune to fire damage. He kills the azer pyromancer but is surrounded again and out of surges. Gil is down to 5 hp; he uses his burning transformation to go insubstantial and hopefully take advantage of the horn’s magic to damage Imix’s cultists with his fire spells. Unfortunately, all of them make their saving throws at the first attempt, and are immune or resistant to fire again. Ulthar is bludgeoned unconscious by the efreet; Gil stabilises him, but with only one enemy down, the PCs decide they need to flee for their lives.

The Juma Associates make a run for it as efreeti and fire archon patrols close in. Gil is struck by a flying scimitar from an efreet and also goes unconscious but Jh’od grabs hold of him and they carry on running. Managing to reach the golden-feathered roc they spotted before they entered the Mosque, Jenma intimidates its firenewt handler into letting them climb on the giant bird so they can fly to safety.

As the huge bird takes to the air, ballistas are fired from the towers of the Furnace – one strikes the firenewt, killing him instantly, but the great roc flies on to the Bazaar of Beggars. Here, Gil is revived by Hrothgar with a healing potion; the mage casts the Planar Portal ritual to bring the PCs back, beaten and bruised, to Vashnawi’s tower in Parsantium’s university.

While Hrothgar and Gil collapse exhausted next to the unconscious Ulthar, Jenma and Jh’od go to find Vashnawi in her bedchamber. The naga is tossing and turning in her sleep and babbling in tongues, clearly having terrible nightmares. When the PCs wake her up and explain what’s happened; she relates her vision: the rakshasas and yak-folk had the Arrows and the Bow and were performing the ritual to curse both holy items so they can be used to free Vrishabha from the ice. There is no time to waste: the party must come with her to the Vale of Descending Stars in the Pillars of Heaven Mountains, stop the ritual and destroy the weapons.

Reluctantly, the naga agrees that the Juma Associates need a full rest before she teleports the party to the mountains.


12th December

In the morning, Vashnawi opens a portal to the Vale of Descending Stars, teleporting herself and the Juma Associates. They arrive in the middle of an ancient ruined town, high in the mountains. Strangely the air is warm and the lush foliage more like that found in the jungle.

The PCs don't have much time to take in their surroundings as they are ambushed by rakshasa archers and yak-folk sorcerers hiding in the ruined buildings who rain down ghost arrows and cast evil spells of Visions of Things that Should Not Be on the party.

Gil casts stormstone fury to attack the archers on the balcony, while Ulthar smashes down the door to one of the buildings and charges in to engage a yak-folk sorcerer. The yikaria withers the warlord's arm with his necrotic staff but the weakened Urskovian manages to kill him with help from Hrothgar. Meanwhile Juma attacks the other sorcerer while the spellcasters and Vashnawi dive for cover – Gil and the naga duck behind a crumbling wall, Jenma runs into the trees.

Hrothgar charges the second yak-man, teaming up with Juma; the gnoll slays his shaggy opponent, but not before both he and Juma are also weakened by necrotic damage. Juma is actually bloodied for one of the few times in his entire adventuring career! Ulthar heals the wounded, dons his shadowform cloak and flies towards the balcony.

yakman


Jenma and Gil kill one rakshasa with their spells; then Vashnawi kills a second after its true location is revealed. Ulthar lands on the balcony, joined by Hrothgar, who finishes off the last one. As the bodies of the rakshasas dissolve, the Juma Associates realise that these are just three of the forty-nine they freed from their imprisonment as cows.

A worn, paved road leads up the mountain....
St George

The Final Adventures of the Juma Associates, Session #64: The Mosque of Blistering Atonement

Here’s what happened in last night’s game. Each PC gets 6,000 xp, so you’re all still 19th level.


11th December (contd)

Now inside the Furnace, the Juma Associates race through the streets to the Mosque of Blistering Atonement. As they hurry along, evading archon and efreeti patrols, Hrothgar and Gil spot a huge golden-feathered roc, hooded and tied to a stone pillar, attended by a solitary decrepit-looking firenewt. Perhaps the giant bird could provide a means of escape later?

The PCs approach the nightmarish-looking mosque, its walls made of black basalt and its domes sheathed in corroded green copper. Entering through the great brass doors, the party surprise the occupants: three fire giants and a fire titan. At first, the battle goes our heroes’ way – Gil casts ice storm in the centre of the temple, immobilising Olostro, the priest of Imix, and slowing the other giants while the others gang up on one of the fire giants. Hrothgar charges, Ulthar unleashes his hail of steel and Jenma finishes the giant off with acid orb.

Then, Olostro activates the crystal idol of Imix, trapping Hrothgar inside – his fur starts to sizzle and burn. Hrothgar tries to smash his way out, to no avail. The other PCs attack the second fire giant warrior, but before he can be taken down, he retreats to the mirhab to use its healing magic. Ulthar throws an axe at him and Gil casts magic missile but the giant is able to make it there on 1 hp and heal some of his wounds. He’s still bloodied, though, and Jenma is able to kill him with another acid orb. Gil’s next magic missile takes down the priest who has been clobbering Jh’od and shoving him into the blistering pillar.

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Meanwhile, Hrothgar is still trapped inside the crystal idol, trying to smash his way out. Ulthar arrives to free him but realises he doesn’t have the necessary arcane knowledge. Jenma tries to help rescue the gnoll too but also fails; Hrothgar finally escapes of his own accord and charges the titan.

Ulthar uses his warlord’s banner to rally and heal the party before unleashing his war master’s assault, giving everyone a basic attack against the fire titan. But the Urskovian is down to 21 hp and he falls unconscious when the huge giant hurls fire at him. With the rest of the party ganging up on the titan, it doesn’t last long, and the Juma Associates are able to revive Ulthar so he is conscious on 1 hp.

Ulthar and Gil swap magic boots so that the warlord is able to sneak around like an elf, hopefully avoiding taking any damage, and the PCs explore the rooms leading off from the main hall of the mosque. There they find several potions of cure critical wounds which Ulthar swigs down enthusiatically, as well as a magical fire horn.

Low on surges and daily powers, the Juma Associates have no alternative but to head downstairs in search of Srivatsa’s Bow. Ahead is a fiery temple where a fire genasi priest of Imix and his azer and efreeti acolytes await the party....
 
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Books Read 2014

Pleased to have read 50 books last year! Quite a few graphic novels, and lots of D&D too. I haven't included the excellent 5e Player's Handbook and Monster Manual because I didn't read them cover to cover. Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb was a re-read – for some reason I didn't like it very much when I first read it over 10 years ago but loved it on the second go-round. I'm currently enjoying The Golden Fool, second in the series.

1. A Drink with Shane Macgowan by Victoria Mary Clarke and Shane Macgowan
2. Be Awesome at Freelance Game Design by Creighton Broadhurst
3. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch
4. Dead Simple by Peter James
5. The Racing Factions by Robert Fabbri
6. Of Dice and Men by David M Ewalt
7. Arrows of Indra by RPGPundit
8. Dark Fey by Adam W. Roy (Pathfinder)
9. Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
10. Cold Granite by Stuart Macbride
11. Tell No One by Harlan Coben
12. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Century: 1910 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
13. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 1969 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
14. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Century 2009 by Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill
15. Midgard Tales (Pathfinder adventures)
16. Ruined Kingdoms by Steve Kurtz (Al-Qadim)
17. The Body in the Mithraeum by M E Mayer
18. Wolfsangel by M D Lachlan
19. Inferno by Dan Brown
20. Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle (D&D Next adventure)
21. Murder in Baldur's Gate (D&D Next adventure)
22. Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik
23. Fey Revisited (Pathfinder)
24. The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin
25. Saga Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
26. The Spirit in the Spice Groves by Donna K Fitch (d20 adventure)
27. The Mahabharata by R K Narayan
28. Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb
29. Personal by Lee Child
30. Witch Doctor Vol.1 Under the Knife by Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner
31. The Fallen Blade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
32. Not Dead Yet by Peter James
33. Shadows of Eldolan by Cal Moore (13th Age adventure)
34. A Tap on the Window by Linwood Barclay
35. Designers and Dragons: the 70s by Shannon Appelcline
36. Not a Drill by Lee Child
37. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
38. Hoard of the Dragon Queen by Steve Winter and Wolfgang Baur (D&D 5e adventure)
39. Want You Dead by Peter James
40. Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher
41. Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
42. Saga Vol. 3 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
43. Saga Vol. 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
44. Scourge of the Sword Coast (D&D Next adventure)
45. Age of Shiva by James Lovegrove
46. Mouse Guard: The Black Axe by David Petersen
47. Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
48. The Rise of Tiamat by Steve Winter (D&D 5e adventure)
49. Looking Good Dead by Peter James
50. Dungeon Master’s Guide (D&D 5e)
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