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 Post subject: Is it fair to sick Azubal on them? *SPOILERS*
PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:58 pm 
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Hello,

I have a group of four 2nd level characters currently hacking their way through the Goblin spire in the Foehammer range in DCC28. Largely due to a raging PC barbarian they managed to hack their way just shy of the final spire where Azubal resides. They now want to go back to the upper room of the first spire that opens onto the rope bridge and rest the night. I don't see how Azuabal could not come kill these interlopers who hacked up most of his men during the day. However, I don't know if any of the party have an attack bonus high enough to hit the vampiric goblin outside of a natural 20. Meanwhile he can kill all of them with a blow or maybe two. The module suggests that the Azubal encounter will only go well if he is handled strategically during the day. I agree that if he comes to their spire camp in the night he will probably kill them all. Yet, I don't find it very believable that the few goblins that lived will tell him about the near extermination of his spire and he will just sit in his lair through the night and wait for the PCs to come ambush him during the day, rested and filled with spells. I thought of scaring the PCs away from the spire with more goblins or Bats but they've hacked through them plenty already and it may just be a time-filler and not a deterrent.

Is it fair to sick Azubal on them? Or a perverse killer DM move? If I don't do it how do I make that make any sense for me or the players in terms of buying into the game reality? Why would Azubal sit on his ass all night and wait for the characters to come to him when he is disadvantaged during the day and they are far more lethal rested? Is he that arrogant? Or unconcerned about the lives of his men or his spire empire?

What do you think?

IK


Last edited by The Incredible Kid on Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:56 am 
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Interesting double-post.

I'm a dumb-ass fat-fingerer.

Sorry. :oops:


Last edited by Ogrepuppy on Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 2:58 am 
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Ogrepuppy wrote:
Page 28 very clearly states that if they ignore the clues regarding who and what Azubal is, they should be....toyed with. Have they ignored--or worse, disregarded--clues?

Necromancer Games adventures often feature locations and events that have MUCH higher-powered CR opponents than the party. It "teaches" the players that sometimes it's smart to run, rather than face unbeatable opponents. So maybe this is one of those situations.

Also, you say that some of the gobbos lived. There are two ways to look at this:

1) the players were "foolish" (or careless) enough to allow the enemy to escape. Now they're going to have to face the enemy's Boss. No mercy.

2) the gobbos were so utterly decimated by the party that they assume the party can wipe the floor with Azubal. (Don't you think that's a safe assumption on the gobbos' part? The party just plowed through the gobbos like a whirling bloody blade-fest, especially that damnable barbarian outlander pureé machine.) The gobbos flee--without warning Azubal--to a safer part of the country to escape the obviously better armed, better trained, and utterly ruthless killing machines that your party comprises, and Azubal will have to fend for himself. As a result, yes, he actually does sit on his ass all night....wondering where his thralls are....

Another thought: there is nothing saying Azubal is at full strength, IIRC--although it's been a long while since I read the details of the adventure. (In fact it specifically states he isn't fully aware of all his abilities as a vamp.) Maybe it's been several months since he's properly fed, and he's in a weakened state. Thus you might lower his stats even further than the adventure suggests and allow the players a significant victory! My strong impression is that Azubal is not intended to be a TPK device.

Finally, you might play Azubal as a common bully: yes, he's a vamp, and yes he's arrogant, but (as it says in the adventure) he's unaware of his true power. Maybe the first crit the party slaps on him, he'll react as bullies do in life by running away from the nasty humanses--kind of like a dog who gets his nose whacked by a newspaper. Only later....like, oh, about sunrise...will it dawn on him (no pun intended) that he wasn't actually hurt by the party's blows.

Or take the kid gloves off and start having them roll up those new characters when Az opens the can of whoop-ass. :twisted:

So, I answered by not really answering at all. :wink: It really depends on the maturity and demeanor of your group--if they get themselves killed, will they react as adults or whiny crybaby punks? More importantly, do you want the characters to (potentially) die yet or not?


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 Post subject: Good ideas, thanks!
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:56 pm 
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Ogrepuppy,

Thanks for the input. You certainly gave me some other ways to handle the encounter that I hadn't thought of. My concern about killing the party is that I feel there haven't been any clues for them to ignore yet. There was a goblin shaman mumbling something but no one in the party speaks goblin. The only dumb thing I think the party is doing is attempting to rest in the spire. They figure they are near the boss encounter so they want to rest up, but they don't want to go all the way to Wildsgate and back before that final encounter. Of course why they think the boss would let them sleep in the spire . . .

We'll see how I handle it. I've already had them all roll up new characters. We usually only game once a month or so and I don't want someone sitting around the whole session without a character.

Thanks,

IK


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 2:23 pm 
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vampires can command wolves and bat swarms - summon them and have them harrass the party for a few rounds before haivng Azubal show up. After Azubal killed one of them, my players ran... got split up, jumped from a spire into the river below, some ran to the forest, one hide in the dungeon, and basically arrived back at the keep the next morning completely demoralized and defeated! They still talk about it!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2007 4:40 pm 
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...And speaking of talking about it...

Kid, please feel free to post what happened during your game(s). I, for one, would be interested to hear how it all worked out, what direction you chose to go, etc.


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 Post subject: Did Azubal kill them all?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2007 2:00 pm 
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So, the players survived their encounter with Azubal. I decided to have him sit tight through the night and let them come to him. He thinks he's so tough and he can take them all on. The players slept in the spire to heal and get spells back. I had one Dire bat and rider attack them on the way across the spires in the morning. One was about all that was left of their settlement. My lovingly-created NPC died when trying to rush across a half severed rope bridge to rescue the Barbarian dwarf that had hacked through the entire goblin encampment the day before. Even with a tumble check the 11d6 on the way to the ground killed her good. I thought the four 2nd level characters would have a hard time surviving. And now there were only three, and they had lost their best ranged combat person. They got roughed up but took out the two Dire bats in the second to last spire. I left the goblins at the still rather than have Azubal send them out because I liked that encounter and wanted to leave it intact. The three remaining party members handily dispatched them (hard to use a healing wand when you die in one round) and were smart enough to leave the room before all the explosions. They discovered the vampire's victims, including the farmer Relthor whom they went in search of for the sake of his son Teran who they had rescued from Bat riders. They figured Azubal was something freaky but they didn't quite put it together. They went in after him. The Dwarf did everything to hit him with a non-magical Urgosh, but even when he connected he either wouldn't overcome the damage resistance or would only do a few points of damage that would then be healed. The Dwarf was the only party member who had a high enough attack bonus that could possibly hit Azubal without a rolling a natural 20. The Wizard successfully cast a Ray of Enfeeblement, but several other spell attempts didn't work. The shocker lizard was hopelessly shocking Azubal with no effect. No one thought to use their silver. The Cleric of Helm didn't think to use his Holy Symbol. The wizard devoted to Wee Jas didn't think to use his Holy Symbol either. The Cleric of Helm didn't think to give the +1 magical short spear that he had taken from the Goblin seer to the Dwarf, who might have actually been able to connect with it. After many rounds of the Dwarf getting wailed on by Azubal and having to be constantly healed Azubal went after the spell-throwing Wizard and beat him to unconsciousness with a single blow. Then the Cleric tried to turn Azubal. He rolled a natural 20. I knew some sort of natural 20 would be the party's only key to victory in this situation, but I didn't expect it to be a turning check. I halted the game and spent some time pouring over the rules to make sure I handled the turning rules correctly. I knew it could have such an effect on the encounter that I would feel really bad if I later realized I didn't handle the rules correctly. I think I did. The Cleric with his different rolls and his bonuses turned Azubal, even with the turn resistance. I even think he should have been outright destroyed because he was 1HD and the Cleric was second level. Went ahead and determined that with the turn resistance he would be cowering but not outright dead. The players used holy water and the magic spear. And reduced him to gaseous form. They found his coffin and threw it flaming over the side of the spire. They managed to make heal checks on all twelve of the villagers and got them all back to the village safely. They got a hero's welcome and the whole village came out to cheer them on and welcome back relatives they had thought were dead. Argun and some outriders showed up and while I tried to inject some arrogance and attitude, I didn't make him act as too much of a jerk since the party had rescued all these people and were surrounded by joyous villagers. Azubal was still gassing around the top of his cave when they left him. They're not sure if he is alive or dead. They wonder if he had another coffin. My understanding is that since it was morning and the sun was out he wouldn't have been able to cross the spires and make it to his second coffin, so after two hours he died in his lair. What do you think? Is he definitely dead?

I ended up dropping that the regent was not only going to pay them, but there was going to be some of ceremony. Not sure if that would really be done or how it would be handled, but I already put it out there so I need to come up with something. Meanwhile the Lawful Evil Wizard is beginning to alienate people with his arrogance and lack of respect. He is a professional notary and upon returning to Wildsgate he dismissed Nazost and his interest in hearing about their journey to the spires by telling him "learn how to write." Or something, expressing his feeling's that he was a superior scribe. Oh Boy.

IK


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 12:06 am 
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First, is that what you wanted? (I mean, for the players to live?) If so, great job!

Second, your story reminded me of another way to emphasize how dangerous Azubal really is: to have him slay an obviously-powerful NPC.

Third: Is he really dead? ...I hope to hell not. What a terrific ongoing villain to use!

Good times!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:13 pm 
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======Design Discussion==== Back Off, Players! ============


Kid Incredible,

Re: Azubal. In the design phase I went back and forth on this one for a while.

On one hand, he jump starts even the most cynical player into that fearful "No way is that what I think it is," place that GMs strive for, while still offering a reasonable chance of PC success.

On the other hand, Azubal also risks wiping out the entire party in a single encounter, which is never my goal. As a GM I strive to make the PCs believe that all the odds are stacked against them, while in truth I'm rooting for them as much as they are. It's a delicate illusion, but one crucial to fantasy RPGs, in my opinion.

My disclaimer is that my style of roleplaying doesn’t suit every group. It doesn’t make other styles better or worse, just different.

In my game, seeing a cleric roll a natural 20 against a nigh-invulnerable opponent would be the perfect culmination of the Spires. With his friends dying in droves around him, the Cleric carries the day. It doesn’t get any better than that --- your player will be remembering that roll the rest of his gaming career. (“Remember when were all level 2 and ran into that vampire?!”)

But again, this might not suit every game.

And what if the PCs had lost the battle? Ideally, at some point the heroes would realize that they are in a contest that can’t be won without planning. This --- in my opinion --- is an important lesson for PCs (or more accurately, players). It’s a wide, dangerous world out there, and eventually the PCs are going to bump heads against something bigger than themselves. However, with enough planning and prep, a group of creative PCs can defeat nearly anything … or so experience has taught me.

Would this have worked for your group if they hadn’t rolled the natural 20? Maybe not. It’s a shame for any group of PCs to die simply because of an arbitrary encounter.

But to watch as a triumphant party of heroes hurling a flaming coffin off the top of the spires? I couldn't write an encounter that cool. And maybe, just maybe, Azubal taught them to fear and respect the unknown in your world.

It is an “adventure” after all; without the danger, the rewards are meaningless.

//H

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 Post subject: Players don't like dying but scaring them is fun
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:46 pm 
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I totally appreciate having uber-tough encounters in adventures. I have always believed that a fantasy environment should include things way above just what players of a certain level can comfortably defeat. I never thought it was fun that characters would only ever encounter things on their level and not things they should run or hide from. At the beginnning of LOTR I doubt the hobbits could have taken the Ring Wraiths, but what a cool encounter! Since I have never DMed 3.5 D&D before (I took an 18 year break from FRPGs) I didn't want to kill a new party in the third session. As the players admitted later, that would've sucked. I didn't want to nerf things, but I also wanted to give them some chance of survival. As it was, they made it out alive and are now (very-excitedly) at third level.

The one thing I realized afterwards was that I probably didn't handle the rescue of the villagers well. Even with succesful heal checks, they probably didn't have the energy for the half-day's march back to town. They probably needed either magical healing or days of rest in the spires. However, with their tormentor vanquished, and the goblins routed, I figured they were willing and eager to make the trip back to home and family, despite their weakened condition.

Now how will the party fare in different parts of the spires without the rogue who fell to her death?

IK


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 Post subject: Re: Players don't like dying but scaring them is fun
PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2007 11:43 pm 
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The Incredible Kid wrote:
Now how will the party fare in different parts of the spires without the rogue who fell to her death?

Hmm, didn't one of those villagers have some incredibly sticky fingers? :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Did Azubal kill them all?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:07 am 
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The Incredible Kid wrote:
Azubal was still gassing around the top of his cave when they left him. They're not sure if he is alive or dead. They wonder if he had another coffin. My understanding is that since it was morning and the sun was out he wouldn't have been able to cross the spires and make it to his second coffin, so after two hours he died in his lair. What do you think? Is he definitely dead?

Tricky one. By the book, it sure sounds like he 'dissipates' in the cave or goes up in flames if he tries to flee in the out-of-doors. (This brings back lots of Buffy and Angel flashbacks, as well as the incredibly under-rated film Near Dark and the tinted-windowed Winnebago...)

Then again, you're "god" and can break rules. Hell, if the heroes get saving throws and whatnot, why doesn't a major villain get cut a break occasionally?

Seriously, this is an opportunity. Do not pass it up. You have a shot at a hella cool ongoing villain. He needs to bide his time, track them as they travel (leave lots of creepy "You feel like you're being watched" and "The horses are unnaturally skittish this evening" and "A darkened figure is following your group" hints for the next several weeks), and just as things seem to fall into a lull, spring Azzie on their butts.

If you think you can handle maintaining the suspense, you might even wait until they're of appropriate level to take Az on. Meanwhile, Az is discovering the breadth and depths of his powers...he'll be a lot less arrogant than the first time. Instead, he'll be a lot more dangerous.

Imagine the look on their faces when they see him, a full 3 or 4 levels after they first encountered him, hideously scarred and pocked from his mad scramble to avoid the deadly sunlight, hissing and growling about getting "my vengeance on your wretched blood-gorged bodies," opening the can of whup-ass on them.

(They are so going to wet their pants... :twisted: )


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 Post subject: Re: Players don't like dying but scaring them is fun
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:46 am 
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The Incredible Kid wrote:
Since I have never DMed 3.5 D&D before (I took an 18 year break from FRPGs) I didn't want to kill a new party in the third session. As the players admitted later, that would've sucked. I didn't want to nerf things, but I also wanted to give them some chance of survival.


That's really cool. :) What brought you back? How did you go about finding a group?

The Incredible Kid wrote:
As it was, they made it out alive and are now (very-excitedly) at third level.Now how will the party fare in different parts of the spires without the rogue who fell to her death?


Nods. That's a serious concern, esp. with some the other encounters coming up. I hope the PCs recognize the need for that skill set. It calls to mind the opening scene in the Hobbit .... "We are looking to hire a burglar."

//H

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 Post subject: Re: Did Azubal kill them all?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:48 am 
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Ogrepuppy wrote:
If you think you can handle maintaining the suspense, you might even wait until they're of appropriate level to take Az on. Meanwhile, Az is discovering the breadth and depths of his powers...he'll be a lot less arrogant than the first time. Instead, he'll be a lot more dangerous.

Imagine the look on their faces when they see him, a full 3 or 4 levels after they first encountered him, hideously scarred and pocked from his mad scramble to avoid the deadly sunlight, hissing and growling about getting "my vengeance on your wretched blood-gorged bodies," opening the can of whup-ass on them.

(They are so going to wet their pants... :twisted: )


Ogre, you are a bad, bad man. :twisted: Very cool.

//H

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 Post subject: Azubal as recurring nightmare
PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:04 pm 
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Ogrepuppy,

Thanks for the idea of Azubal as recurring villain. I will have to give that some thought.

Harley,

I took eighteen years off because I didn't know anyone I wanted to game with. I always had to teach everyone how to play and always had to be the DM in my adolescence. At a certain point I lost the motivation and spent all my time in the "real" world. I work at Powell's Books (world's largest bookstore) in Portland, Oregon and became aware of other employees who were gamers. Eventually I joined a 3.0 campaign with them, and then joined another. After a year or so I decided to DM so my DM could have a turn being a PC. I started with BASIC D&D because it had been so long since I had DMed and all the players started with 2nd edition AD&D and didn't know about old-school gaming. I took them through B4 The Lost City which I had been obsessed with since a 6th grade slumber party. They had too easy of a time hacking through the whole pyramid. They wanted the skills and feats of 3.0/3.5 and didn't want to continue their characters so I brought Zargon out to challenge them for an end to the Basic campaign. They all died in an epic fight before we started the 3.5 campaign. Because I had just killed off a whole party (no matter how much fun we all had) I didn't want to repeat that experience right away or the players would be seeing a pattern emerge . . .

IK


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2007 9:57 pm 
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RE: Incredible Kid: I totally would have allowed Azubal to sneak up on your party and wreak havoc! My players just barely avoided that same fate:

*SPOILER ALERT* FOR THE GOBLIN SPIRES – DM’s Eyes Only!

My players just recently completed the Goblin Spires portion of the adventure. They ALMOST spent the night in the bat cave, not knowing that there was a vampire getting ready to go on night patrol, but eventually the Paladin thought better of it.

Here’s what the party consisted of:

Level 2 Monk (Wild Elf)
Level 2 Cleric/Fighter (Human)
Level 2 Paladin (Human)
Level 1 Rogue (Drow - ECL 3)
Level 2 Cleric (Dwarf)
Level 2 Wizard (Human) with Shocker Lizard in tow

The Drow is Chaotic Neutral (no Evil Aligned PCs allowed in my game) and is a bit of a pick-pocket. So naturally when they got to the well in Area 1-4, the Drow wanted to dive right in to investigate. They tied him to a knotted rope and lowered him down the well until his feet hit the water. From there he could see the boulder-strewn outcropping against the far wall of the cave (Area 1-4A). With his freaky 120ft. Darkvision, he could sense the Shadow as it attempted a touch attack. He screamed to be lifted out, and so they did, and used a barrel to cover the well. (I wouldn’t have had the Shadow chase them out of the well anyway since its job is to guard Azubal’s coffin.)

Operating under the assumption that there was a ghost guarding loot at the bottom of the well, they sent the Cleric/Fighter down next (Glory Domain, better undead-turner than the Dwarf). As a 1st level Cleric, his chances of turning the Shadow were slim to none, plus he rolled badly. He took 6 points of Strength damage on the Shadow’s first successful attack. So they hauled him back out of the well and decided to come back after the clerics had leveled up some (and after some much needed bed rest to heal the STR damage).

Fast forward to the Goblin Platforms in Area 1-7. The first three goblins failed their spot checks and so the party had the advantage of surprise. After examining the contents of the huts on the platform, no one volunteered to scout out the rope bridge leading to the Temple of the Dark One, mostly because they were preoccupied taking out the goblins on the Guard Platform with ranged attacks.

They were also preoccupied with the sturdiness of the rope bridges and didn’t see the Bat Riders coming. They all ran to the bat cave for cover but stayed near the entrance. Except for the Wizard. He went blundering in to the cave and triggered the 2 Dire Bats. They managed to get some good bites on the Wizard, but took some nasty zaps from the Shocker Lizard in the process. The Paladin stood at the cave entrance and kept shooting at one bat mount in particular, reasoning that if he downed the bat, the rider would go down with it. The rest piled into the cave to give the Wizard a helping hand, and the Cleric did some moderate healing.

Just as one of the Dire Bats had the Cleric/Fighter grappled, the Monk got in a lucky Stunning Fist blow. The other bat tried grappling with the Shocker Lizard while the Rogue got into a flanking position and did some ungodly sneak attack damage. The un-harnessed Dire Bats never left the cave.

Meanwhile, the Paladin’s arrows finally took their toll on one of the bat mounts until there were only two Bat Riders left. It didn’t take long for the others to catch on and start aiming for the bat mounts. The Wizard started firing off magic missiles while the Cleric/Fighter did the best he could with a sling. Eventually a second bat crashed onto the Landing Platform and the rider was quickly dispatched by the Rogue and Cleric/Fighter. The third bat crashed on the edge of the platform, but the last rider miraculously made his reflex save and jumped off the mount just before it plunged into the abyss. Of course, the mount-less rider didn’t get far before he was captured.

Back in the cave, the Cleric continued to heal the Wizard as best he could and then wandered off to explore Area 1-10C until he stumbled across the partially harvested bodies of the villagers. He was told that there were bite marks on the bodies. He was pretty much out of spells at that point and couldn’t do much more bandage them up a bit.

While that was going on, the others saw to it that the moonshine still was blown up real good and that both the Goblin Brewmaster and his apprentices were killed while attempting to flee. But they still had a left-over Bat Rider to interrogate.

Begging to be let go, it wasn’t long before the goblin captive squealed that he served "Azubal!” The poor little guy was clearly more frightened of Azubal than he was his captors. He also seemed worried that Azubal would “feed” on him and taunted the party by insisting that they would share the same fate. The Paladin put two and two together and considered going back to town to stock up on vampire killing supplies. But the Cleric/Fighter, the Rogue, the Monk and the Wizard were more worried about how they were going to get all twelve of Azubal’s victim’s across the rope bridge way back at the Ford during the night. Plus no one had any pearls to cast Indentify with on the wand they had picked off of the Brewmaster, and no one was willing to play the guinea pig.

So the Dwarven Cleric and the Cleric/Fighter reasoned that they should spend the night in the seemingly secure location of the bat cave until they could get their spells back and heal the harvest victims so they could at least walk on their own. But then the Paladin rolled really really well on a Knowledge Religion check vs. Vampire Lore and got everyone in a panic to leave. Which was a shame, because by then it was almost dusk and in about another hour it would have been party time for Azubal! Alas, no. They scrounged for cloth in the Storeroom and lashed what they could find to several short spears in order to construct makeshift stretchers.

Long story short: they made it back to town with all 12 harvest victims (they risked using the wand anyway) and the townspeople threw them a parade as they went to claim their promised reward from the Regent for the heroic return of the harvest survivors. And then the party stocked up on vampire fighting supplies the next morning (Curses! Foiled again!) Since it happened to be Market Day, they even stocked up on garlic. More importantly, the Cleric/Fighter has some silver coins melted down into bullets for his sling.

You can see where this is going, can’t you? By the time they actually reached Azubal’s lair, Azubal had one round to say his spiel before the Cleric/Fighter rolled a confirmed crit on his first sling attack. And he had already cast Magic Weapon on his silver bullets before he flung them. One magic missile later, Azubal was an pretty anticlimactic gaseous form who had to slink back to the ruined moonshine still room to hide out. At first I had him make a dash for the Guardroom platform, but that would have left him in the sunlight too long. So I had to backtrack and let him slink beneath the shade provided by the platforms in order to make the 2-hour deadline back to his real coffin.

So at first the party was excited about looting the false coffin in Azubal’s throne room. They had the Drow with the freaky Darkvision stay and hide out behind the throne, constantly on the look-out for a conspicuous puff of moisture making its way toward the crack in flagstone. The plan was to trap Azubal in his coffin and drive a stake through his heart as soon as he rematieralized in a helpless state. The others went back to the large platform to hide in the huts so as to lure Azubal's gaseous form into thinking that it was safe to return.

And so they waited…and waited…and waited some more until about midnight they heard the flapping of Dire Bat wings fluttering over the platform. I believe it was the Cleric/Fighter who spotted the large bat as it circled around behind the spires. This gave the party enough time to run ahead and attempt to warn the Drow, only to see a Dire Bat come to roost in the throne room just as they arrived.

Using its Blindsense ability, the creature could easily sense the Rogue Drow poking his head out from behind the throne. Suddenly the large bat form shape-shifted back into vampire form, and Azubal began to attack the Rouge with his elf-bane flail. Here is where I should have studied up on “elf-bane” before I ran that part of the adventure. If I had rolled the correct damage dice, the Drow would be DEAD. But that’s OK, I don’t want the Drow to die…..just yet. Azubal nearly killed him anyway just rolling regular damage. That’s when the magic/silver bullets started flying again and Azubal evaporated into the night. This time I could have him make a dash straight for the Guardroom platform and allow the party to get a sense of what direction he was headed.

So THEN they finally explored the Temple of the Evil One, and even then, it was the MONK that found the secret door. The Drow failed his climb check and had a bat swarm to contend with. Then they went back to town to heal up, Identify their new magical gear and went back to storm the spires again the next day.

Now properly armed and attired, they went back to investigate the well. And here I think my players deserve credit for doing something rather clever. The 2nd Level Cleric cast Hide From Undead on himself and the Rogue. Once again they lowered the Cleric down on the knotted rope with a readied action to Turn Undead (just in case). With no intelligence score, the Shadow couldn’t detect squat! Then the Drow dove into the well and swam to rocky outcropping, found the cairn and the coffin. He swapped out the vampire’s elven sword with his own, tied a rope around the coffin, tied the other end around his waist, and swam back to the base of the well. They hauled Azubal’s coffin up the well and argued over what to do with it. Their first instinct was to burn it, but is was all wet. They tried Detecting Magic on it but only discovered the elven sword curiously wedged in the Rogue’s scabbard.

The Rogue and the Cleric/Fighter wanted to confront Azubal a third time, force him into gaseous form, watch him rematerialize in the newly discovered coffin, and retry the wooden stake plan (plus they really really wanted whatever booty he was carrying). I put Azubal in the Guardroom, waiting to use the chokepoint to ferret out the intruders. But the Cleric had prepared yet another Hide From Undead spell. Azubal failed his Will save, allowing the Rogue to sneak up behind him and stab him in the back – and the Rogue missed!

Snapped out of his funk, Azubal called on his Children of the Night ability. I rolled 5 Bat Swarms which would arrive in 6 rounds to plague the party. But by that time, despite Azubal’s spider-climbing acrobatics he was lying helpless in his coffin (he only had 11 hit points, for crying out loud!), and the wooden stake through the heart did the trick. Then they beheaded Azubal so they could mount a trophy in the great hall of the Wildsgate Keep, set a fire inside the coffin and tossed it off the edge of the Guardroom platform.

And that is how Azubal proved to be less of a challenge than I thought he’d be, but a worthy challenge for low-level characters none-the-less.

I’m hoping the Witchdoctor proves to be a worthier foe. We should find out one way or the other next session…


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:40 am 
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SPOILERS ahead.

My players:
Human dragon shaman 3rd level, elf Thief 3rd level, gnome Bard2/Beguiler1. The Bard has a ring of healing, so they've got minimal, but existent, healing capabilities.

My group decided to cross the bridge, rather than the ford, and ended up on the "wrong" side of the river to combat the gobbos. During the bridge crossing, the bat-riders attacked the party. They quickly dispatched the gobbos, but the bats were hungry for demihuman flesh, so I had one of the bats stick around. It successfully grappled the elf thief, lifted him, and carried him part way up the river (nothing like an elven Happy Meal to satisfy that dire bat hunger!).

The elf managed to not only Escape Artist his way out of the grapple, but Tumbled up into the saddle (in a very Legolas move--his Dex is literally inhuman at 20). He then found an exceptionally high tree and rolled a natural 20 off the saddle and into the top branches of the tree. A few hair-raising Climb checks later, he scrambled down the tree and met up with the others, who'd seen him get carried off and ran toward where he dropped out of the bat's saddle.

I calculated that there is roughly 1850 yards from the bridge to W-5 on the Wilderness map, which is a little more than a mile. PHB indicates it takes 1 hour to cross 2 miles, so if they stuck to clear ground it'd take them 30 minutes to get the the waterfall. As they walked along the bank, I attempted to spook them with bat-riders circling, vulturelike, overhead.

I swapped the raider's ambush (W-3) to the eastern bank of the Saedre, a little closer to the Spires. I was rolling pretty hot, and they weren't, so the raiders ended up knocking out the elf. They snagged some of his hair. They hit the gnome a few times, and I had her roll a Reflex to avoid one of them grabbing a handful of her hair (which she failed, and they made). Meanwhile, the leader was duking it out with the dragon shaman. The shaman pulverized the raider leader into a bloody mash.

I had a few random encounters (they encountered the Scouts and they saw a skull impaled on a spear with still-wet blood). After all this hostility, they decided they needed to heal...so where did they make camp? The forest of The Wilds, of course... :roll:

Knowing that Azubal was there, but also knowing they would get creamed by him (and they hadn't seen any of the clues that he was a vamp yet, and it was night when he was at full strength) I was merciful--they rolled a random encounter of a bat swarm. Thinking quickly, I figured the swarm was under Az's control, and would report to Az the party's size, relative strength, etc.

Heh heh...the bats nearly killed 'em, as once again I started rollin' hot with max damage. It was a tough fight, as the elf kept being nauseated by the swarm and just taking damage, and the swarm kept adjusting it's location to follow the shaman and bard. Finally, the dragon shaman activated his energy field aura (he's of copper type, so it was an acid field) and the swarm started dissipating quickly.

So now the party is back at Wildsgate, healing, resting, and with a new respect for the Wilds that the Wildsgaters have been warning them against.

...and Azubal waits--patient and deadly in his stony cave--preparing to feast on fresh blood....


Last edited by Ogrepuppy on Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:53 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Love the stories
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:17 pm 
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None the Wiser and Ogre Puppy,

Thanks for the stories. Love to hear how different versions of the same adventure are run. Now that my PCs are heroes and they were promised a "ceremony" to honor them I have to figure out how to handle it. By Friday.

IK

PS None the Wiser, I thanked you in the other forum. I really appreciate you sharing those visualizations of Wildsgate. I don't feel like I've been running the Keep part of the adventure very well, and I want to give the players a real sense of it as a location, and its inhabitants.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:48 pm 
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RE: Incredible Kid:

I'm glad to hear those Wildsgate pics proved useful! :D 8)


RE: My Wildsgate Campaign:

The Savage Witchdoctor hardly put up much of a fight. The Rogue Drow drank one of the invisibility potions (from the stash in the Temple of the Dark One) to scout ahead in the Witchdoctor's lair, rolled a 29(!) on a DC 25 Move Silently check and scoped out the layout of the room with the hanging dolls easily enough. So everybody rested up and then the Cleric cast Silence on the Rogue, the Rogue drank the last invisibility potion and went to stand near the Witchdoctor's throne without getting close enough to encompass the Doc inside the range of the Silence spell. Then the Paladin (& Friends) marched in and offered the Doc a chance to surrender (as he is wont to do).

The Witchdoctor said his spiel and lobbed two flaming skulls at the party members he could see. The unseen party member then stepped close enough to Silence the Doc, and the rest of the fight took place in complete silence. And of course every spell the Doc had prepared had a verbal componenent! :? He lasted a few rounds longer than usual because of the three Dolls of Sacrifice strung around his neck, but his puny STR score couldn't make a dent with his morningstar.

I think the biggest challenge to the players have had to face so far in this adventure was the fight with the four raging Savage Heroes in the Mead Hall! :shock: :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:56 pm 
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None the Wiser wrote:
My players just recently completed the Goblin Spires portion of the adventure. ** SNIP **

Hunh. You have 6 players, averaging 2nd level, with a cleric.

I have 3, averaging 3rd level, with a hireling physician (basically a non-spellcasting doctor). No cleric, no turning. No invisibility to undead.

I'll be curious if my party will have more trouble. We'll see in less than 24 hours..!


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 4:57 pm 
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OK, what I'm seeing is that my 3rd level party is able to take down the gobbo threats and bats more easily than None the Wiser's larger (but lower-level) group, but my guys still haven't gotten to Azubal yet so I'm not sure how they'll fare against the vamp.

They stood at the edge of the shadow well (area 1-4), listened to my straight-out-of-the-boxed-text-in-the-adventure description of it, and collectively shook their heads 'no' and walked away, heh heh. Nice write-up, Harley--you scared my players off successfully.

More later, once they've "met" Azubal. They're currently at the large platform (where the huts are), area 1-7.


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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2007 11:06 pm 
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Spoilers.

HA! My players walked right onto Azubal's cave, fists swingin'....even though they knew he's a vampire!

My dice were rollin' crap, so Azubal swung a few times and missed (I described it as him "toying" with them). They fired off magical (non-silver) arrows and melee weapons to no effect.

I played Azubal as being arrogant. He scoffed at the gnome bard, and considered the elf a "plaything for later" and initially didn't bother fighting them at all. The dragon shaman, on the other hand, had Azubal mildly concerned. After swinging and missing many times at the dragon shaman, he turned to the elf in frustration.

Then I get a great roll, and add to that the +1 elfbane flail--Az crushed the elf (18 hp damage when the elf only had 12 hp at that time). The players went pale and got mighty scared after that. Their physician hireling ran to the elf's aid.

Az was positioned in such a way that the dragon shaman was able to Bull Rush him--right onto the rope bridge! Azubal began to smoke and smolder in the sunlight. They completed opposed rolls, and the dice once again failed me--the dragon shaman continued to push the goblin further onto the rope bridge & into the sunlight.

I described to the player that Az toppled at the edge of the ropes, then suddenly seemed to intentionally let go. The goblin smiled wickedly, and droped over the edge...and fell.

...and fell... The dragon shaman saw the goblin's skin blister and burn.

...And then Azubal suddenly turned to a vaporous mist and seemed to dissipate.

Looks like I have an ongoing villain now, too. :)


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2007 9:02 am 
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Sweet.

The visual of Azubal falling away is wonderfully cinematic. Very, very cool. And cheers to your PCs for coming up with an awesome tactic. Can't wait to read how he returns down the line.

Nice GMing, Ogre. Again, hope you and yours can make it to Indy...

//H

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 Post subject: Another cool Azubal fight
PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2007 7:49 pm 
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Those dice sure can make or break an encounter, can't they? I played in my friend's campaign last night and he was rolling criticals against the party all night! Sounds like your party's Azubal encounter was a fun fight, nonetheless. At least Azubal knocked someone unconscious. Ogrepuppy, thanks for the idea of using Azubal as a continuing villain. I think the party in my campaign has definitely not seen the last of him.

My party going through DCC28 took on the "Dead Clans" last session. The party necromancer has gotten really good at frightening off threats. He has a crazy spell DC for his necromancer spells, and has been able to send off Dire Bats on numerous occasions. On their way through the Wilds, a cannibal group beat the party up pretty good, before retreating, just like the last time they were encountered. (I can't wait for the party to find the dolls!) The party made it up the Dwarven stairway with little difficulty from the Bugbear or the Dire Bats along the stairway. They took some damage from the rogues, and are now in battle with the men-at-arms. I think they have killed half of them so far.

Before the next session I am trying to decide whether or not to alter the levels and abilities of the Drow and the Half-Orc. I don't want the party to breeze right through them. Since there are only three players in my campaign, and my rogue NPC fell to her death, the party has gained an NPC monster-truck of a ranger, who has been hacking up foes two-handed, with a long sword and an axe. All four adventurer's are third level. So far I have not adjusted the number of adversaries upward, since while the party are all third level, there are only four of them, and only two with much offensive capability. The spell-users have used-up a lot of their spells at this point. Hard to know if the baddies should be raised to 2nd or 3rd, or left at 1st.

Since the party has been fighting with the men-at-arms for 4 rounds, I assume the baddies have already set fire to incriminating documents. I also assume they are going to make a break for it, with the key, before the party is done fighting the men-at-arms. At least, that's how I've thought about playing it so far. If they do make it out with the key, how are the players going to get it? Hmmm. Maybe Azubal will find the lieutenants fleeing through the Wilds with the key, and decide he wants one to replace the one he lost? Or will the key make it to the Lady? So far the party is divided about wanting to tell the Lady about the one key they have found. So far they haven't.

Ahhhhh. Fun times ahead. Thanks, Harley.

IK


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 9:40 am 
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I adjusted Liath's stats to that of a true Drow using the Monster Manual. For reasons beyond my ability to fathom, the adventure only gives her first level Elven stats. Drow have more spell-like abilities and Liath should be upgraded to CR2 for being both a Drow and a first level Druid. My players dawdled/searched the Scouts' and Men-at-Arms' bedrolls/rooms for so long that I had a second patrol of Men-at-Arms rappel down the lift shaft to investigate (as the adventure instructs, though it makes no mention as to how additional patrols are supposed to bypass the lift if it's already down).

So the party had just finished ambushing the second MaA patrol in Area 2-14 when I had Liath make a listen check and peek around the corner. Unfortunately (for her and Kos) the Wizard made his listen check too (heard Liath's wolf growling), giving the party one round to effectively block the stairway. Liath tried casting Flare on the Drow and the Dwarf to no avail. She got in one attack with her thundering quarterstaff, but of course failed to crit. Kos had to attempt a bullrush against the Dwarf to get out of the Planning Room before he started taking damage from the fire he had started, and the Dwarf actually knocked the half-orc back into the room, which would have been a sight to behold! :shock: 8)

Of course, by then my players were all Level 3 and Liath and Kos were only Level 1, so I suppose such things are to be expected. :roll:


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