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 Post subject: Session #4
PostPosted: Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:00 pm 
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Last session, the group slowly worked toward cleaning out the second level of the dungeon, but at a steep price. They took out Minus the minotaur, Chu-Thuk the sorcerer, and Goresh with his remaining trollhounds, but lost five characters along the way.

Another of my players couldn't make it this time, so I simply ran a group of five characters, as follows:

Kory (human Sor2)
Stubs (halfling Rog2)
Lorn (dwarf Clr2)
Mikhail (human Ftr2)
Cressmar (human Rgr2; the only original PC still in play)

After resupplying in the city, the group returned to the ruins of Castle Whiterock. I decided that, in their absence, the goblins had killed or sold off the remaining captives, and nailed a couple of bodies to the doors inside the building that guards the entry to the Castle Whiterock courtyard; dark magical energies in the intervening time had caused the bodies to spontaneously animate as zombies.

After being surprised when the grisly display reached out and grabbed the lead characters, they cut the bodies apart, then headed back for the second level. This time someone wrapped himself in tent canvas, lit a fire under the hornet nest to smoke it into quiescence, bagged it, then took it with him to the top of the stairs, where they then chucked it down toward the orcs below. A good plan, marred by a terrible attack roll (the hive came to a rest halfway down), followed by the character running down to give it a boot. That resulted in the PC tripping on a wire and falling on his face at the bottom, the hive in the room, and four orc guards ready for action.

However, the orcs could not compete against the swarm, with two archers quickly succumbing and the other two dropping fast due to spells and attacks from the rest of the party. Then they had to deal with the swarm themselves...despite taking some damage and a bit of poisoning, they got torches lit swiftly and were able to disperse it.

They then headed back for the prison area, only to find it cleared out. I did roll a nat 20 on the dwarf's Search check, and decided he noticed the secret door in the storage room (the one that leads to the trapdoor beneath the ruined tower on level 1). After exploring it, they returned to the surface, cleared away the rubble, and opened the trapdoor. This would make their final efforts on level 2 much easier...

After resting the night, the group used the trap door side passage to gain entry to level 2. I had decided that at this point, the orcs knew they were in a fight to the bitter end. The orc sadist/taskmaster from the mines was present, along with seven orcs--about all I figured remained from the level two forces. The only ones not present were Kaerenga, his harem, and his trollhound.

Thanks to their taking the orcs by surprise from the side, they were able to emerge victorious in battle, though it was a very close thing. The cleric dropped to -7, and thanks to a critical hit from the deck of critical hits, he lost the ability to heal naturally for a day. With no potions to cure him, the group was stuck with lots of injuries and no way to treat them other than natural healing

Thus, armed with the booty looted from the orc bodies, the group decided to send a couple people back to Cillamar. Most of the gear was sold off, and they were able to purchase another wand of cure light wounds and several potions of the same.

I ran a couple random encounters for each subgroup; the experience from these were enough to level two of the characters. A couple others had leveled earlier, so by this time the group was pretty much all level 3.

After rejoining, the group returned via the side route into level 2. The coast was clear as far as the throne room, where they fought and killed Kaerenga, his harem, and the trollhound without losing anybody (the two frontline fighters did drop to 1 hp each though, so it was close).

After a thorough looting (taking 20 on Search checks saves a lot of time), they continued toward the mines. The ranger's tracking was able to locate the secret door leading to the duergar lair (since the prisoners had recently been hauled through for sale). They located him and killed him before he could flee or put up much of a fight. They quickly figured out the elevator mechanism, then found the shaft to level 7, with the ogre "prisoner."

Through grunts and pleading expressions, the ogre was able to fool the cleric into bringing him food, and happily grabbed him and started choking him. Battle was joined; when the cleric dropped unconscious from the nonlethal damage, I was VERY tempted to have the ogre throw him in the pit...but I decided to be kind (see last session), and instead simply dropped him so the ogre could attack someone else. He soon died, and the cleric eventually recovered. And that is where the session ended for the night.

I had planted a map to the location of DCC #51.5 (Sinister Secret of Whiterock) in the orc loot hoard, so I anticipate that next session (to be held in two weeks) they will be plundering that mini-complex.

Notes: Having a couple levels under your belt is really useful in giving a group leeway to recover from stupid mistakes. In general they used better tactics this time around, and it paid off. I'm hoping that after surviving a session with no character deaths, they'll also have a bit more of a positive disposition in future sessions.

The entry room for level 2 is truly a brutal place, and the most difficult spot they've had to go through (five times, I believe!) on the level. Finding the hidden entrance to the level made a big difference, and I recommend to other DMs whose party is having trouble with the entry chamber to drop a clue or two as to the trapdoor's existence.

Skull count for the session: zero. Total skull count to date: 9.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:49 am 
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Cressmar deserves a "whiterock survivor" award or something.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 4:49 pm 
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Well, Cressmar's player DID miss last session (the one where I had five PC deaths)...had he been there for that, it might have been another story!

I do find it amusing that they've blown through all the pregens. Too bad, because the stats for the pregenerated characters are distinctly better than 32-point buy, so keeping one of them alive would have been worthwhile.

I suspect the PC kill ratio will be dropping now that they've reached 3rd level, and have more of a hit point buffer to work with (not to mention two wands of cure light wounds!).

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 Post subject: January 26, 2008 session - running 51.5
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:44 pm 
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This last weekend I had another session of my Castle Whiterock game.

Only three of the six players could make it; one was busy at work all of January, another was ill, and the third was mysteriously absent. So the surviving three players brought in a healer (class in the Miniatures Handbook--basically a much weakened cleric but with potent cure spells). The lineup:

Stubs (3rd level halfling rogue)
Mikhail (3rd level human fighter)
Kory (3rd level sorcerer)
Lisi (3rd level human healer)

I had originally planned to beef up the numbers, anticipating 5-6 3rd level characters, but as it turned out with only four PCs I only made relatively minor adjustments here and there.


The group arrived at the entrance, went down and triggered the deadfall that released the orc skeletons, which they dispatched with little difficulty. They pocketed the gem without detecting for magic, so at this point they just think it's a standard ruby.

Ignoring the corridor with the fake door, they first found the secret door and went through. I had an additional four sih'hel show up after the first round, and the battle was pitched, but the little buggers were overall not that threatening, apart from a few lucky hits and a lot of high damage rolls on my part.

They checked out the mechanical room, triggering the trap (the halfling rogue walked right under the tripwire, oblivious, when he scouted the room). Apart from the initial block and tackle damage, they had little trouble with it, and largely chose to ignore it.

Before proceeding down the stairs, they went to check the false door from earlier. The rogue failed to search the floor, and fell into the pit (failing the Reflex save). He got to enjoy the hospitality of two regular dire rats, one slightly advanced specimen, and the later arrival of the owlbear (using the young owlbear stats, but with regular owlbear hit points, at an estimated CR 3).

Fortunately the group was able to get a rope down to him and haul him up before the rats bit him more than a couple times. The healer did her thing, and the group decided to leave well enough alone.

Heading back to the stairs, they descended to the landing over the great shaft. Due to player caution and minor paranoia, much time was spent exploring this area, before the mechanism of the levers was determined. I also threw a couple stirges at them here, but they were dispatched without any difficulty.

Ultimately they lowered the fighter down to the lower landing, and he had a look around, but they decided to pull back and rest rather than continue to explore, as the wizard was out of spells and the healer was starting to run low. I had decided at the outset that the interior door leading outside had a gnomish mechanism that was missing, kept by the Oracle down at the bottom of the lair, so the group would not be able to depart until the full area had been explored. Hence they camped in the first room.

During the night I ran the glowing mist and small monstrous spider encounters, which did not cause them too much trouble. After resting, they decided to go back down the pit trap and take on the owlbear.

The owlbear managed to grapple the halfling, but doing so required it to squeeze into the stairwell, and it failed two grapple checks in a row to haul the halfling out into the main room. By the time it did so, it got one round of attacks off (I rolled miserably), then finally died from all the damage it had taken.

The gang descended the spiral stairs to the mushroom area. Ignoring the passage on the opposite side of the chasm, they checked out the door and fought the assassin vine, but took it out without too much trouble (it did manage to do serious damage to the halfling though).

By taking 10 on the Open Lock, the halfling got the main door to open. While he checked out the passage beyond, someone found the other secret door in the room. Realizing that the puzzle lock also opened it, the halfling did another Open Locks check, and rolled very well the first time, opening the secret door.

He went in to check out the altar, and set off the crushing room trap, then failed to leave fast enough to escape the portcullis. He managed to evade death by having a fellow party member pass him a potion of gaseous form (looted from one of the orcs in level 2 of Castle Whiterock). Once the trap reset, he disabled the portcullis and pressure plate, and they looted the chests. I decided to forego the whole "Silverheel Clan symbol" thing, since the group spends so little time in Cillamar anyway that I didn't want it to distract from the exploration of Whiterock. Needless to say, the halfling was happy to get a weapon and armor sized for him.

After this, the group checked out the octagonal chamber with the glowing crystals. The elevator activated, and most failed their save against the fear effect (all but the healer). Reaching the bottom, I determined the fear would linger 5 rounds, and rolling another die, decided the sih'hel in the next room would come to investigate in four rounds. Though it does not say so in the book, I figure the sih'hel were familiar enough with the octagonal chamber not to be perturbed by the horrible noise.

They ran into the room, and got one round of attacks off (dropping but not killing the sorcerer) before the others recovered. I just ran the standard number of sih'hel this time, and had a couple make good their escape when the battle turned against them, so the group was bloodied but intact.

This is the point where we left off. They have yet to explore the sih'hel dwelling chamber beyond, the waterfall passage, the adamantine doors, or the bottom of the cavern.

Some notes:

While the healer sucks as a standard PC, being much weaker than a regular cleric, there's no denying that when it comes to curative spells, they rule. The healer's cure minor wounds healed 3 hp, cure light wounds healed 1d8+7, and cure serious wounds 2d8+9. Having her with the group made a huge difference. She even was able to hit a few times with her longspear.

I like the balance of exploration to combat in this adventure, and the three-dimensional design of the complex.

Two of the characters got enough XP to reach fourth level by the end of the session, so I may well beef up the final encounter at the bottom of the chasm for next time.

Total PC deaths: 0. Looks like the group is starting to cohere and keep each other alive!

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Author: Mother of All Encounter Tables; Bits of Magicka series
Coauthor: Rappan Athuk Reloaded

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:15 am 
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Damien,

Awesome report. I really like the changes you made to the adventure. You've caught everything I would have changed if it went to print again, and caught some things I never would have though of (stirges were a great addition).

It's also cool to see your party coming together as a team --- resting, scouting, sticking together and generally watching each other's backs. Those are my favorite sessions: when the party gets into a groove and starts meeting the dungeon on their own terms. :)

//H

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 Post subject: Re: January 26, 2008 session - running 51.5
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 11:18 am 
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Damien the Bloodfeaster wrote:
He managed to evade death by having a fellow party member pass him a potion of gaseous form (looted from one of the orcs in level 2 of Castle Whiterock).


Heh. Poor Stubs took a beating this time around. :twisted: Glad he made it out okay.

//H

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2008 4:57 pm 
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Glad you're enjoying the show, H!

If I were to make any other changes, I might have enlarged the owlbear's lair slightly, including the stairs to the pool so it wouldn't have to squeeze to go after adventurers. I might have also enlarged the room the secret cache was in, to try and lure more adventurers into the area!

I did consider putting some more interesting fungal variants in the room outside, but decided that since I was hoping to run this adventure in one session, that would simply take up too much time, and in retrospect I'm glad.

You did a good job with the adamantine door at the end of the 10 foot wide corridor halfway down the shaft. The characters barely got a look at it, and decided they wanted to have nothing to do with it! Gotta love that intimidation factor! :)


A couple other bits I've been wondering about, and haven't quite decided how to address yet:

1. How exactly to the sih'hel make it up to the surface? They have a rope ladder connecting them to the lower level, and possibly use the elevator room (see below) to go up to the middle area, but then how do they access the top area?

I thought about simply having them use the chain, but that would require the machinery area to be active. Maybe they shut it down when not in use?

My final conclusion is that I'll probably change their physiology so that those padded fingers can secrete a sticky substance to allow them to climb more easily. That would explain their ability to get up and down much better (but then they might not need the rope ladder at all to reach the bottom).

2. How does the elevator room reset, and can it be accessed from below? It's pretty obviously intended to be run going down. If the sih'hel don't need it to go up, then it could very well be accessible only from above...but I'd imagine the original Silverheel gnomes wouldn't have cut themselves off in this manner. Guess I'll add a hidden lever to call it (unless there's already one there and I missed it).

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Coauthor: Rappan Athuk Reloaded

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 Post subject: February 23, 2008 session
PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:42 pm 
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Had another session this last Saturday, where we finished up Sinister Secret of Whiterock, and the PCs headed back into the dungeon by way of level 4A!

A total of four players were present, including all those there last week and the player of the half-orc, Flask. Once again, Lisi the healer was a secondary character controlled by one of the players to give the group access to healing--which they sorely needed this time out!

The Characters:

Stubs (4th level halfling rogue)
Mikhail (3rd level human fighter)
Kory (4th level sorcerer)
Flask (3rd level half-orc barbarian)
Lisi (3rd level human healer)

We had finished off last session with the PCs at the bottom of the octagonal elevator room, where they had fought and killed or driven off the sih'hel from the chamber beyond.

They decided to rest (so two could level up to level 4), and spiked the door shut to do so. I allowed this with no encounters, but restocked the room beyond with six sih'hel at full strength.

Once ready to go, they took on the sih'hel beyond without too much trouble, then came out to the main chasm. Rather than descending right away, however, they strung a rope to the waterfall area and had someone climb across and scout around. They found the oilskin-wrapped map, which I had replaced from the handout provided in the adventure (no way am I giving them a complete side view of the complex that easily!) with a map outlining all the non-secret areas of CW level 4A, and the mining tunnels between 4A and the Sinister Secret complex, including a number of branches leading to areas marked "Danger!", "Under Construction," "Subaquatic Experiments Wing," etc.

They pored over the map a bit, and the gnomish translations to writing thereon, then decided to shelve it and descend to the bottom of the abyss!

Stringing up a second rope, the group descended in tandem to the bottom. I had given the Oracle an additional level of Sorcerer and Cleric, changed her spells known/memorized a bit, and had it so the vine rope ended on the shore, not in the water (so a fall does not risk drowning, but does do more damage).

The Oracle got one PC to fall asleep the first round, but a character on the neighboring rope rolled an incredible Dex check and Strength check, and caught the falling character. The halfling thief, riding on the barbarian's back, then used his spear to thump the sleeping fighter repeatedly, getting him to wake up.

Before the Oracle could get off a second sleep spell, she was targeted with magic missiles, and failed the Concentration check. The characters then hustled down the ropes (one did voluntarily drop 30 feet just to get down faster), and combat was joined with five sih'hel warriors.

Unlike their first few sessions, this time the players were rolling hot all through the game. One player must have rolled six or seven 20s throughout the game, not to mention a lot of other rolls 17+. Because of this, they were able to make short work of the sih'hel. The Oracle had been firing rays of enfeeblement, and managed to weaken the party's two main fighter types, but attrition from spells, lucky hits, and the halfling rogue critting on a sneak attack (then rolling max damage on the sneak attack dice) soon took her out.

The fighter messed with the giant crystal, gaining a pasty white complexion and a feral aura. The others found the sih'hel loot cache, then the cavern started to flood, and they hauled ass back up to the ledge far above.

At this point the complex was mostly explored. They investigated the mithral door (failing to find the trap, but the only PC over there--the barbarian--was not blown back far enough to hit the portcullis blades). They then found the mine cart passage leading off, which I had magnanimously increased in size to 2-1/2 feet in diameter, so they could get through by squeezing instead of needing to make Escape Artist checks or magic to get through it.

After resting (and Mikhail and Lisi leveling), the group proceeded slowly up the mine cart passage. I threw a Mark I Lancer at them at an intersection, which they again made short work of, and they otherwise slowly progressed until they made it to the door outside the storage room in level 4A.

By this time their ration supply was looking serious. They had finished their last day of food, and never found the mechanism to allow the door to open to allow escape from 51.5. Thus there was a sense of pressure on them to press forward and clear the level. They were also feeling a little cocky from their success, talking a bit of smack, so I decided to add an additional shocker lizard to the room beyond, bringing the total up to four!

They opened the door and got into a battle that almost resulted in the deaths of the entire party, thanks to the combined electrical fields of the four lizards. The first round three lizards generated a 6 die field, and the next round they got off an 8-die field. The rogue failed both Reflex saves and dropped, as did the healer; the fighter and barbarian were down in the single digits, and only the sorcerer, who had kept out of the area of effect, was unscathed.

I might have dropped the fighter and barbarian, but after the 8-die aura the party had finally killed off two of the lizards and brought a third to 0 hit points. Before the last lizard could move up and do a 4-die aura with his buddy, though, the barbarian hit him and rolled nearly maximum damage, which was just enough to kill it. Had he not done that, it would have really been touch and go!

The characters looted the chamber, then rested while Kory leveled--by now, all the characters were 4th level, and fully suitable for this level of the dungeon.

They proceeded through one of the elevator shafts into the main complex. While clearing the rubble from the connecting passage in the chamber beyond, the xorn heard them and attacked from behind. Multiple acid orbs and some more lucky hits killed it, though, before it could do more than give the party fighter a moderate mauling.

The group made it into the assembly hall, and made short work of the animated cart. They checked the corridor beyond, and played with the winch mechanism a little. While searching the wall facing the offices, a couple managed to disbelieve the illusory wall to the balcony, and they gained entry to the offices in this manner.

They checked out and looted the conference room, headmaster's office, the new office, and the lounge, and the game came to an end at this point.

All in all a good session, with no PC kills thanks in no small part to some excellent die rolling on their part, along with some good combat tactics with few major blunders. I think this was the fourth session since I've gotten a kill...maybe it's time to start beefing up the monsters more!

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 2:50 pm 
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Great write-up!

Quote:
The halfling thief, riding on the barbarian's back


Like in Alien: Resurrection? 'Cause that's what I'm seeing.

Quote:
Had he not done that, it would have really been touch and go!


Sounds like that was a harrowing encounter! Sweet!

Quote:
a couple managed to disbelieve the illusory wall to the balcony, and they gained entry to the offices in this manner.


Exactly how it happened in playtest, and that party came through the "main" door.

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Author: DCC #55: Isle of the Sea Drake, DCC #61: Citadel of the Corruptor, more to come....


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 Post subject: 4 players
PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:28 am 
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We've been running with 4 players. And they really have to work hard to stay alive. Last session they entered 2nd level via the front door (they had already found the back door via the tower earlier).

I think I had every player at -9 at least once in that session. They were lucky to be alive really.

It's not an easy campaign for them. But that's ok. It's good to make 'm sweat.


>> Question: I used the introductionairy tale that Lady Chantessa sends them into the castle to recover documents and books. I have not yet found any mention of useful books and documents on the first 2 levels. Do I need to devise some extra documents for that? Or has anyone already run into a set of docs and books that she might find useful?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2008 2:09 pm 
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I know on the ground floor there's that secret chamber in the cliff face that holds old documents of Clynnoise. You could easily add material there if what's there is not enough (I don't remember offhand--my players never found it).

Those orcs on level 2 are pretty brutal; they can easily take down most 1st level characters with one swing and moderate luck, and 2nd level characters don't last much longer. I ran my players through that meat grinder four times before they finally started figuring out how to deal with that chokepoint; of course, by then the lair was largely depleted of orcs!

The trollhounds are also pretty tough. By comparison, the leader and most of his lieutenants were not too bad.

Sounds like you're giving your players a run for their money, Myrath! Good for you!

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 Post subject: The Hounds
PostPosted: Tue Mar 11, 2008 5:37 am 
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We had the battle vs the hounds last sunday. That gave them a sweat. It took them a while for them to figure out the dogs were regenerating and standing up again all the time :P

I'm working with some experienced players, and I'm guessing that's the only thing that's keeping them alive. If they were less experienced.. well..

Also... I had a 'bad dice day'. But that was good for them :P

I'm enjoying running this campaign. Also because of the well fleshed out city with all the subplots.
I hope my players will stay alive. Although, I must be ruthless if they make a stupid mistake.

Lol... They also had some interesting trouble with the rust-spiders last week. Cost them quite a bit of equipment! It's nice to see them struggle their way through. I like that it's 'tough' and not yet 'too tough'. It's right on that edge.. It's tricky to find that edge, but well worth the playing experience

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 Post subject: March 22, 2008 Session
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 3:45 pm 
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Back for another report on the latest monthly session of my CW tabletop game! This time there were only three players to start with, with the fourth arriving late, halfway through the session. My fifth player canceled, and it turns out my sixth player had moved away to the coast, and has officially dropped from the game.

The Characters:

Stubs (4th level halfling rogue)
Mikhail (4th level human fighter)
Kory (4th level elven sorcerer)
Lisi (3rd level human healer (controlled by player of Mikhail))

arriving late:
Flask (4th level half-orc barbarian)

At the end of our last game, the group was about halfway through exploring the Clockwork Academy (level 4A) they had arrived by way of DCC 51.5, and as I had sealed off that surface exit from below, by this time they were out of food and facing starvation.

It's funny how blase players can be about getting into combats where their characters find themselves on death's door, but the thought of going hungry freaked some of them out. There was a LOT of grumbling and pleading to get out of the dungeon and to the surface for the first few hours. It's a technique this DM heartily approves of! :)

The group started by clearing out the central offices and rooms of the level, finding the hidden chamber with the book with no difficulty. The halfling rogue did trip the phantasmal killer trap, and failed the Will save, but he rolled lucky on the Fort save, and avoided dying. Lucky little bastard!

They left the scrolls, since they were so big and there were so many (I decided 20 scrolls, each weighing 20 pounds). They'll be in for a nasty surprise when they eventually return to claim them, haul them back to the surface...only to find they are worthless fakes! I'm chuckling evilly over it already...

In any event, after scouring the offices they tentatively set off to check out the dormitory. There they got sucked into a battle and finished off the lancer and ranged attack constructs. After running these, I've found that the Mark II lancers are okay, but the Mark Is and the ranged 'bots are not worth their CR. Having a CR 2 ranged attacker that only does 1d3 on a hit is not my idea of a tough combat. Still, it did manage to bleed them of more spells, and with the pressure on to get out before they started to starve, I thought I'd let it ride.

Rather than trying to force their way down the laundry chute, the gang then headed for the exit to the level by way of the organ room on level 4.

After that their progress was fairly straightforward. They made a beeline for the stairs to level 3, killed a few of the orc zombies and webbed the rest, then headed down the corridor to the room that provided access to level 2, whereupon they found themselves back in familiar territory. I did have one last surprise for them--a gelatinous cube as a wandering monster on the now largely vacant level 2, but they were able to badly maul it before it could engulf the fighter, then finish it off with spells before he could take any real damage.

Glad to be back, the group reunited with Flask (as the player finally arrived), and headed back to Cillamar to buy, sell, trade, and level up. As they had kept much of the magical loot for their own use, they didn't have too much gold left in individual shares (maybe 2,500 gp each, reduced by buying a type 2 or type 3 bag of holding from their gross take). They bought a few scrolls of reduce person, the fighter got his sword enchanted, and the like. Then it was back to Whiterock!

The group intended to make a beeline back for the Clockwork Academy. However, this time they were unable to traverse level 3 unscathed. Their trooping down the hall alerted the bugbears, and the fight with the bugbears alerted the orc alchemist and his assistants. There followed a pitched battle that ended with all the adversaries dead save the alchemist, who surrendered with 1 hp remaining. (The bugbears had their escape cut off by another web spell, so were forced to fight it out.) They interrogated their prisoner, finding out a bit about the layout of the level, then decided to use him as a "tour guide," manacled and put on a leash. One item of interest: the fighter Mikhail, who had been afflicted with the feral aura from the purple crystal of the Sih'hel in 51.5, managed to put his aura to good use in the interrogation. Definitely a "curse" that's been more of a boon than a problem to the group so far!

With their prisoner, they decided to check out the abandoned shrine/sparring room (missing the hidden compartment in the altar), then took on the orc barracks. This led to another pitched battle, the last of the session, where I got the fighter down to -3 hp at one point, then hit his recumbent form and brought him to -7 (as I only rolled a 2 on 1d10); the healer was then able to reach him and revive him--pesky cure jockey! More web spells were cast left and right, which helped keep the party from being swarmed, and they were able to finish off the orc warriors without too much more difficulty, thereby earning enough XP for all the PCs but Flask to have reached 5th level.

Die rolling was uneven throughout the game, with players having hot and cool spells, but they generally rolled better than not. That web spell has proven to be a nuisance--the DC for moving through webs is broken in 3.5; I may have to stipulate that a successful Strength check DC 20 allows moving a minimum of 5 feet, rather than 5 feet per 5 points over DC 20 (which would really mean you'd need a DC 25 check to move 5 feet, as it is written, which is horribly unbalanced). Two PCs came within a hairsbreadth of dying, only being saved by a lucky save on the one hand and a weak damage roll on the other. Next time, maybe!

Character kills this session: 0
Character kills to date: 9

Next time they'll likely be facing Drugila, her orc barbarian allies, and the skeletal cloud giant. I may have to pump the encounter up a bit, since the PCs are mostly all level 5...

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Coauthor: Rappan Athuk Reloaded

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 Post subject: DCC #51 - April 19, 2008 session (#8)
PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 12:11 pm 
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I'm more than a little late for this report on my session back in April, but better late than never! Due to repeated no-shows, Cressmar's player has been officially dropped from the game. I did have a guest player, however, come in from out of town to run a monk during the game.

The Characters:
Stubs (5th level halfling rogue)
Mikhail (5th level human fighter)
Kory (5th level elven sorcerer)
Lisi (4rd level human healer (controlled by player of Mikhail))
Xod (4th level human monk)

arriving late:
Flask (4th level half-orc barbarian)


The gang started out in the well room on level 3 of the dungeon (with the underwater access to the flooded ruins of level 5). They did not investigate the pit, but rather bandaged their wounds from the fight with the orcs, then pressed on, doing a bit more thorough of an investigation of the area.

The group decided to press on through the mines for the cleric leader of the orcs, but first spent some time checking the area they were in more thoroughly. They found the secret map room in Drugila's quarters but not the hidden compartment with the command words, and they also found the secret compartment in the shrine which they had missed last time. Then they headed into the mines, using the "always turn left" strategy as they went.

This soon brought them to the antechamber to the tower, where they fought the orc barbarians with a bit of spell support from Drugila (I had advanced them all one level to make the fight somewhat more challenging). The barbarians did some serious damage, but they finished them off and webbed the tower entry, then beat a retreat to find a place to hole up and heal.

They decided to go back to the Clockwork Academy, figuring they had largely cleaned it out anyway, so it should be a safe place to rest. They fought the zombies again, and a minotaur zombie I had added gave them a bit of a suprise with its damage-inflicting capacity, but eventually cleared them out. After a nuisance encounter with the piercers, they made their way back into level 4A and rested.

After looting the scrolls in the lounge (I had decided on 20 huge scrolls, each weighing 20 pounds, for 400 lb of weight to lug in their bag of holding), they decided to check out the laundry room. First they sent the rogue down; he got swarmed by water elementals, but managed to squeak out of there, and then the group used a combination of reduce person spells/potions and a grease spell to get back down and take them out. They looted the room, then headed back for the level above.

Wanting to get done with level 3, I decided there would be no random encounters, and allowed them to make it to the tower unscathed. They went in, and got involved in a protracted battle with the levitating Drugila. I had placed the stairs on the outside walls of the tower, rather than the interior, and I'm not sure if this made the encounter easier or harder for them...probably slightly harder, since it meant they had to cover more ground to move up the shaft.

I found that, aside from her buff spells, Drugila was best served simply whacking enemies with her oversized weapon. her Adept spells did relatively little to the opposition. And though she kept herself going for a while, eventually they took her out.

Checking out the chamber up top, they decided they didn't want to mess with the skeleton at all (which I had given back his 2nd arm and weapon). The monk darted in, grabbed the crown, and took off before the skeleton could do more than get up. After webbing the area to cover their retreat, they headed back downstairs, leaving that bad boy for some later date.

They licked their wounds, then pressed on. After an unpleasant run-in with the green slime, they encountered the nixie, and were able to take down the crayfish without too much difficulty, and got the Aquilya from her. They also scouted the underwater passage to the crayfish area on level 5, but retreated rather than doing further battle.

As I recall, this is where they left off, though their intention is probably to take on the trogs of level 4 next time. I gave them a run for their money this game, but once again that blasted healer managed to keep everyone alive, so no PC kills.

As the PCs are pretty much all level 5, I'll have to consider if I want to modify things for the next level. Maybe I'll just throw a few more mobs their way, rather than leveling everything up. I'll definitely be freeing the dragon, too!

Next session is scheduled for May 17. Expect another report after that!

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 Post subject: DCC #51 - May 17, 2008 session (#9)
PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 1:59 pm 
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The Characters:

Stubs (5th level halfling rogue)
Mikhail (5th level human fighter)
Kory (5th level sorcerer)
Flask (4th level half-orc barbarian)
Lisi (5th level human healer)

After a number of sessions which they managed to pass through unscathed, another champion has finally perished on the road to clearing Castle Whiterock of its denizens!

When last we left off, the gang had largely finished clearing out level three. Other than a minor fracas with the rasthnum, they finished their exploration unscathed, and descended to the level below, to see what lay beyond the cavern of the piercers.

Amazingly, some of them still had not figured out the significance of the stone piles. One fighter ran through, causing a torrent of piercers to drop on him. After that, the group decided to stick around and kill them off as they fell. The piercers managed to do some damage, but not enough to pose a serious danger, and eventually they cleared them all away.

Happy with their success, they started down the passage--and the frontrunner, Flask, promptly fell into the first pit! I had decided to deepen them to 20 feet, add spikes, and boost the DCs related to it by 3. He failed his save, and ended up getting hit by two spikes, for serious damage.

Climbing up the far side after checking the bottom for loot, accompanied by the halfling, he scaled the far end. I had decided to place the pits with only a one-foot ledge between them, to make things more interesting...the barbarian made his save this time, though, and so he and his companion perched on the narrow ledge to decide what to do next.

At this point I decided it was time for a wandering monster! I picked the skeletal wyrmling, and decided to give it the ability to fly to make things more fun (its stats otherwise remained unchanged). Turns out this was too much fun for the barbarian to handle, though. Still injured and unhealed from his fall in the pit, he quickly succumbed to multiple hits from the wyrmling, sending his broken corpse down into the second pit!

The rest of the gang drew back a little, and the fighter Mikhail engaged the wyrmling while the sorcerer pumped magic missiles into the undead thing. Despite its damage reduction, it soon dropped, and the group decided to retrieve the body of their fallen comrade and return to town.

Rolling for wandering monsters on the trip back on my overland tables (from the Mother of All Encounter Tables), I came up with a gang of five axe beaks (from the Tome of Horrors). I decided that while the group was plundering the ruins, they had come upon their campsite with the horses, and had themselves a feast. The PCs arrived in time to witness the remains of the feast, and engage the flightless birds in battle. Despite the intimidating threat of five large creatures running up, they were not too much of a challenge, and were able to take them out fairly easily.

Back to town to recruit a new player, sell off stuff, and get other stuff identified. The new character was decided to be a Warmage named Veronica Verity. After spending some time with bookkeeping, the group returned to CW to continue their explorations.

The pits and piercers had left a bad taste in their mouth, so they decided instead to investigate the crayfish cavern--in other words, level five! Armed with a pair of water breathing spells on scrolls, they used one and plunged into the water. The crayfish soon fell, and they found themselves in the flooded lower courtyard. Having found the model of CW's exterior behind Drugila's quarters, they had a good idea of the layout, and chose to first check out the nearby ruined tower with the nixies.

The urchins were a real pain, getting off maybe six rounds of needles before the PCs could get close enough to engage. Despite a decent AC, Mikhail was hit 11 times, though he made every Fortitude save against the Strength damage. Ultimately the group closed and destroyed the urchins, while the sorcerer filled the interior of the tower with webs to prevent anything inside from engaging.

After the battle (and paralysis had worn off), they opened up negotiations with the nixies. Thanks to having freed Nemoura, and telling them of the location of their other comrade's bones, the nixies left them be, and grudgingly mentioned the giant clams to the northeast.

Still feeling pretty good, the group then decided to check out the main gatehouse. Ahh...the consternation on the players' faces when I described the hydrohydra, and thunked down an Aspect of Tiamat mini to represent it, was most satisfying! Out of kindness, I decided that the hydra had recently eaten, and so was only moderately hungry. It moved up behind the wall to its usual tactical position, ready to engage...meanwhile, the PCs were trucking as fast as they could along the bottom for the cliff wall to the east, to get the hell out of the water!

I gave them a break, and had the thing not pursue. They made it to the surface, then decided to check out the clams.

I have to say, the clam thing was a bit of a surprise in practice. It was really unclear how easy or hard they would be to damage once they were closed. Since they pose no threat while closed, would they even be worth XP? After much discussion on what to do, they finally caused them to snap shut, then tied ropes to them and hauled them to the surface, where mining tools quickly smashed the shells, allowing them to retrieve pearls easily and have themselves a clambake.

It was starting to get later in the day--time enough for one more encounter. They decided to check out the main doors at the cliff base, and entered the merrow's home. Summoning his pet, he moved forth to engage with them, and once again forced them into retreat by repeatedly hitting the fighter, doing damage faster than the healer could keep up with. Fortunately they had constrained the merrow in another web, which (while it did not hinder his attacks) slowed his pursuit, allowing them to make good their escape.

At the end of the session, they all leveled up to level 6, and decided the flooded ruins were too much for them to handle right now. It sounds like they will be heading back to the trog level. I've already upgraded the red dragon an age category in anticipation, and plan on boosting the trogs as well to make it a bit more challenging!

SUMMARY
Nothing like pits to divide a party into several groups, even when they don't fall victim to them. Giving the skeletal wyrmling flight was a very nice power boost. Not something I'd recommend necessarily for lower level groups, but highly useful for tougher parties, especially if you introduce plenty of terrain hazards.

Indeed, movement and limitations thereon was really the theme of the session. In the underwater exploration of level 5, the slowness of swimming or moving along the bottom really became a major tactical handicap for them, since it made supporting maneuvers extremely hard. I suspect it was bad enough for them that they may not ever go back to do the aquatic area--at least, not until they are high enough level to get access to freedom of movement.

As for the clams, I ended up giving their shells a Hardness rating, and basically made it very difficult for them to pierce the shells while in the water. However, since the clams were relocated from elsewhere, moving them again seemed reasonable to me. For other DMs running this encounter, I'd probably just give XP for one or two clams if they go this route as an award for cleverness, but none for the rest since there's no challenge to it.

Until next time!!

Skulls collected: 1
Skulls to date: 10

Rest in peace, Flask!

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Coauthor: Rappan Athuk Reloaded

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 Post subject: DCC #51 - June 28 and July 12, 2008 sessions (#10/11)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 8:00 pm 
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Hey!

Thought I'd do my long-overdue summary of our last two gaming sessions, in which the group pretty much cleared out level 4 of the dungeon (the first level of the troglodytes).

When last we left off, the group had undertaken an ill-starred foray into the flooded exterior ruins of the dungeon. After beating a hasty retreat twice, and narrowly avoiding death, the group decided to go back and more thoroughly explore level 4, which to date they had largely ignored.

By this time the PCs were level 5-6, and with six or so characters I knew they would have a fairly easy time of it throughout the level. To remedy this I bumped up the dragon an age category, had Benthoc use his spells and abilities wisely and not randomly, and used the Spider Mother option of having spider swarms appear when she died. I considered, but did not get around to, leveling up the trogs. I also considered simply eliminating most of them, and replacing them with a more powerful monster or NPC adventuring group that got there just ahead of them. In the end I decided against these options, mainly because attendance was starting to be an issue, and I didn't want to overwhelm them if they had only 3-4 characters available.

***

The group started out by using planks to cross the pits in area 4-2, then skirmishing with the trog guards, who caused them little trouble. They smacked their heads when they found the secret passage to bypass the pits, then pressed on into the main living cavern.

As the females and young tried avoiding them, the PCs largely left them alone, and decided to head down the passage to Benthoc's cathedral (area 4-13). Getting the jump on him was easy, though they focused a fair amount of attention on the zombies, taking them out with a sudden maximized fireball (they were worried they might be tougher--turns out they were really just a resource absorber!).

Benthoc was able to blind one of the casters (the warmage, IIRC), while the rest of the group closed to engage, and the rogue tried climbing the dragon statue to get behind him. They finally made it up, and despite judicious use of spells and attacks, Benthoc was finally forced to use stone meld to escape...

...or so he thought. The PCs were having none of it! They immediately set to work destroying the patch of ground he disapperaed into. Realizing he didn't have much time, he did what healing he could on himself, then reemerged...to be cut down in a single blow with a lucky crit by the party fighter. Ouch!

After recovering their breath, the PCs headed down and took out the Spider Mother, a battle which was not too difficult for them, though I did manage to get off multiple poisonings. After looting, they decided they needed to rest, and retreated back to a secure area, and this is where we left off on session #10.

With the following session in July, the gang decided to explore the other tunnel that led to the cave moray warrens (area 4-9). They spent a fair amount of time wending their way through here, using a bag of tricks to good effect to create a target to lure out the morays. Eventually they managed to clear out the area; they never did find any of the secret passages.

Heading back toward the heart of the level, they next took on Grizzlisk and his troglodyte buddies. I think this was a satisfying fight for them, mowing through the trogs with fair ease, although they did manage to do a fair amount of damage in the process. Pretty much the entire battle took place at the Y intersection where the passage to area 10 opens out; the trogs had heard the PCs coming, and used the bottleneck to avoid being surrounded or overwhelmed. (I considered using the rope thing in areas 4-11/4-12, but decided against it, wanting to get this part of the dungeon out of the way.

After their victory, they debated and finally headed back to Benthoc's lair, to explore the passage to area 4-14.

They spoke a bit to the dragon, then made the mistake of pulling back and getting into a long discussion about what to do next. The dragon broke free, and the group prudently decided to retreat. The dragon managed to get its breath off on them a few times, though through the use of their spells (such as web) they were able to largely get clear. I decided during this fight that the dragon's real enmity was to be directed towards the troglodytes, and while he would be happy to kill the PCs, if given a choice his preferred targets would be trog-flesh.

Again moving as fast as they were able, the group retreated to the cave moray warrens, where the 5-foot wide passages would force the dragon to squeeze to fit in, thereby giving them a tactical advantage. Deciding to make the best of their situation, they followed the passage down to area 6-1, rather than resting and taking on the dragon immediately.

(Unknown to them, the dragon was busy terrorizing the females and young. While they are gone, he has killed a few, and got the others to be HIS servants. They are now in the process of hauling his loot horde to the surface, where he will find a new lair somewhere outside of Castle Whiterock...)

Level Six! At last, the group is back in an area more suited for their current character levels (though I think by this point some of them were starting to reach level 7...).

Unfortunately I had not spent too much time reading this area over thoroughly just before the session, and it turns out that on level six that is a big mistake. The level is very active and interactive, with PCs' actions sending ripples throughout the area. Still, I soldiered on the best I could while the group plunged into the area.

They didn't have much trouble with the initial chamber, and proceeded toward areas 6-3 and 6-7. They peered into area 6-7, but backed off; in area 6-3 they watched the ooze and trogs battle it out; the ooze won, but was badly hurt, and the PCs were able to take it out with ranged attacks with little trouble.

Afterward, the group did a little bit more exploring of the wide passages. One problem I encountered at this time was that, while elevation lines are shown on the map, it does not show which side is up and which is down--though sometimes the flavor text in the adventure does, and I ended up getting this mixed up a couple times, to my chagrin. So a note to DMs running this level--I recommend writing out relative elevations for each of the lines prior to the session on a copy of the map, to minimize confusion!

We left off about here, with the group preparing to plunge deeper into level 6. Next session is in nine days--on August 23. Looking forward to it!

Skulls collected in two sessions: 0
Skulls to date: 10

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 Post subject: Re: DCC #51 - Castle Whiterock - game report [spoilers]
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:27 am 
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I think we may have reached the end of our Whiterock crawl. We went through the secret entrance from Sinister Secret (lost a PC halfling rogue that fell down the central shaft when she didnt make her Str check). On across the clockwork academy (missed a room or two down the laundry shafts but otherwise lots of fun). Then out the academy and across the trog level defeating Benthoc (who toasted the party cleric with his breath). However since it has literally taken us months to get to just this point (this team has focus issues and cant sit through one entire encounter without lengthy breaks in play) I'm taking leave. I'll be focusing on my smaller more familiar gaming group whom is not playing currently in the fantasy genre. :?

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 Post subject: Re: DCC #51 - Castle Whiterock - game report [spoilers]
PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 7:18 pm 
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CharleRock, sorry to read that. What is causing the "lengthly breaks"? I've seen my group become more focused since we dropped 3.5, but that may have been more due to myself and my inability to properly DM the rules heavy game.


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