Sunday, January 31, 2016

Ghoul River Blues

I haven't been playing much over the past few months, although recently I've been running a bit of Chanbara. Well, last night I broke the dry spell with Dean's Eberron campaign, now all switched over (mostly) to 5th Edition!

As I mentioned last post, I decided to go with a new character for the new edition to try out some of its features. I'm playing a Half-Elf Paladin with the Oath of the Ancients class abilities, which makes me a "fey knight" or "green knight" druidic paladin. Which is cool. Dean's always been fine with us refluffing any sort of crunch we like, and the customization yet simplicity of 5E makes it fairly easy to create the sort of character you want without too much fuss, or having to look through a metric shit-ton of rule books (at least for now!).

The session didn't go off completely without hitches. There are a few hiccups due to converting mid-campaign (Rhea the witch's ritual book has many rituals that aren't "rituals" in 5E but were in 4E, for example) but mostly things went smoothly. And Dean was good at letting us players (who have the actual PHB in hard copy) look up rules, then either going with the RAW or making some slight modifications to fit what had gone on before. The session recap is below.


Jack Summerisle, Green Knight of the Eldeen Reaches found himself deep underground in the company of the Dwarf Tempest Cleric Thorvald Oakenspar, the Human Rhea the Witch (not sure what her wizard specialty was...) and Jade the Half-Elf Hunter Ranger. Also in the area were a group of rock elementals (friendly) and a captured Duergar. The party awoke from slumber to an earthquake which caved in the chamber's floor.

Rhea and Jade fell, but the witch was able to save herself with a timely spell, becoming misty of body and floating down. Jade, normally quite nimble, was caught off guard and suffered a tumble. At the bottom, they found that the ceiling of the chamber below had smashed some ghouls wielding pickaxes. Not the brightest of undead, apparently. Also in the chamber below was a subterranean river with a boat the ghouls must have used to arrive here.

The party had been sent to exact revenge against the duergar by the rock elementals, but seeing the ghouls had approached far into duergar territory, and having heard stories of the might of the chthonic ghoul kingdom, we debated which enemy to pursue. Eventually Rhea and Summerisle spoke to the rock elemental Rosie (a nice, rose-pink quartz being), who told the party that they were satisfied that the duergar had learned their lesson in the previous battle. They invited us to come with them and learn (over the course of several years) how to "mend the mountain." Summerisle diplomatically suggested that tracking where the ghouls had come from might be more pressing, but time permitting we would return to their kingdom.

Now, the question was what to do with the prisoner. Questions toward the duergar were met with glares and spitting. Summerisle considered using his command spell to force an answer, but felt that would be unjust. Instead, he related to the duergar how the party had actually hoped to strike an alliance between the duergar and the other, more friendly, inhabitants of Khyber: the rock elementals, gnomes, and mushroom men. Then, he drug the hog-tied dwarf to see the ghoul corpses and how close they were to duergar city. That finally got a bit of a reaction out of him. And so we let him go.

Next, it was down to the boat and down the river! Luckily, Oakenspar had been a sailor previous to his career as a storm priest, so he manned the helm while Jade and Summerisle rowed and Rhea talked to her hat. Some ways down the waterway, we came across a giant pile of monster corpses on the bank, just where rivulets of water seeped through the walls and into the river. From that point forward, the river was polluted with decay, and full of maggots and the air full of giant flies.

We pulled up and examined the situation, eventually deciding that we could stop up the flow of water from the walls with one of Rhea's rituals, if only we could get something big enough to block it up. Luckily, Summerisle found a large enough flat stone, which Oakenspar helped him to put into place. Then Rhea fused the rock with her spell, Mordenkainen's joining (I think was the name - and this is something that was in 4E but not in 5E that Dean had to adjudicate).

We sailed on, until our craft suddenly lurched to a halt. A giant mutant lamprey had latched onto our craft. Rhea, still having her floating disc that she had used when sealing the flow of water, hopped on and floated to the bank. Jade also managed to leap to safely. Oakenspar cast a spell, disrupting the water beneath the boat and damaging the creature. Then it rocked the boat, plunging both Oakenspar and Summerisle into the filthy water. Well, undeterred and holding his breath, Summerisle smote it with his battle axe, adding some divine power to the blow. Then when it bit him, he used his misty step spell to reappear on the bank. At the same time, Rhea's floating disc saved Oakenspar from the water. Jade pelted the beast with arrows, and it died.

Shortly thereafter, we encountered an area where dozens of diseased hands were reaching up from under the surface. Oakenspar turned the undead, clearing a path through them, but then an undead mermaid or siren of some sort appeared and cast a dreadful gaze upon Jade, who jumped overboard in fear. Summerisle managed to hold him and prevent him from fleeing further, while Rhea used a fireball and Oakenspar a thunderwave to damage the creature and some of the hand-things.

But alas, two more skeletal sirens appeared, one to the rear and one to the side. As the one to the rear hypnotized Rhea, the first threw some exploding pearls our way, and the third bolstered the first in some way with a spell. Undaunted, Oakenspar summoned a lightning storm and zapped the first siren, and Summerisle finished it off with a well-placed crossbow bolt. While Jade recovered from the fear, the siren behind created a wave which washed us toward the grasping hands. One more lightning bolt and a mighty smite from the paladin's axe ended that creature. Then, Jade fired several arrows at the rear siren, severely wounding it. The two remaining undead fled the combat.

And that, dear readers, is where the current episode of the adventures of Jack Summerisle comes to a close.

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