The party delved the Nethercity on 03/09/22. Rested 03/10/22. Left city en route to the dwarven city on 03/11/22. Fought trolls that night and double timed it to Turos Quelle; arriving early morning 03/12/22. Needing a day of rest the PCs can make downtime requests on and after 03/13/22.
This session was a bummer. Read on! :)
I took a week off between Session 47 and this, Session 48 and I wonder if this might have been a long enough break where PCs were getting rusty. There was something weird in the air; indecision.
|mourning the only one|
she ever loved
Players discussed on the mics for a while about what they might want to do. It sounded less excited and more exasperated or confused. I was left wondering why a good plan wasn't agreed upon privately between players during the 2 weeks since the last session.
I'm not privy to those conversations so can only theorize and guess. What was very clear to me, however, is they weren't sure what they wanted to do. They eventually agreed to go with ol' faithful session goal: Delve the Nethercity.
Rapunzel (PC Priestess Level 4) recently began fortified and cleaning up the first few rooms of the megadungeon to reclaim it for Law and the Temple. The player and I discussed a bit about the guards and guard shifts Rapunzel had set in the stairs descending in to the Nethercity and the first couple rooms which were now claimed and fortified by steel doors. It was pretty cool seeing how player(s) come up with interesting ideas like reclaiming a dungeon, how they might go about it. I tossed out some rulings about random encounters the guards would have to deal with in their fortified position and this was noted for future downtime tracking.
The party passed through the safe guard room to the next room over which was a crypt. I rolled random encounters and restocking checks and found that 3 ghouls were in the crypt and, worse yet, they had successfully surprised the PCs. Since ghouls are somewhat intelligent I ruled that they would allow the party to pass through the room a bit so they, the ghouls, could attack the party's back and side ranks.
Additionally the party was passing through the room and a trap door inside as a sort of shortcut to where they were going. When the front line (mostly melee tank sorts) were at the bottom of the hole the ghouls attacked. Carina (henchlady mage to Rapunzel) was knocked below zero hit points and possibly dead. Rapunzel herself had ghouls in her face and it was a challenging fight getting her out alive. Olivier (PC Paladin Level 2) and Daria (PC BladeDancer level 6) were at the bottom of the pit but were able to get back up and defend the priestess and kill the ghouls. Grommz (PC Dwarven Vaultguard) also put a hurt on the undead as well.
This little battle was foreshadowing for the tragedy that would befall the party before the end of the session.
After the battle Daria and Olivier worked together to help get Carina back on her feet. The mortal wound the Mage received wasn't dire and she could get back to adventuring after one day of rest. So the party went back topside and rested a day. It didn't take long to get back up to the city above since the ghoul fight was only ONE ROOM into the dungeon.
Then the debate about what to do raged on the mics. I got a drink.
I get a sense some players were tired of delving the Nethercity and wanted to do something bigger. There was discussion of following the treasure map they gained a while back to an apparent Biodome of Dinosaurs near the Dark Wall. But that was shot down since they had no Explorer/wilderness type PCs this night. Another option that was put out there was to follow a treasure map they had through the Black Lodge to some fortress full of magic items defended by a mad lizard. Planar travel could be interested right?
I'm not sure why this was shot down. I think they simply fear the Black Lodge.
The mission the agreed upon was very simple indeed and it was to travel to the dwarven vault city and just check it out. Grommz the Dwarf was in this session so he promised he could get the PCs a warm welcome were they to travel there. Problem is that it's pretty far away from the city of Dubzaron, where the Party was.
ven so, they all tentatively agreed on the plan and travel began. Grommz's player quipped that they had a Paladin, a SwanMaiden (Rapunzel has a magic cloak that turns her to a swan), and a Dwarf just like the terrific Appendix N novel "Three Hearts, Three Lions". Little did they know a famous monster from that tale was about to be upon them...
During the camp on the second night of travel, somewhere between Turos Quelle and Siadanos, Daria was on watch and not focusing. I rolled up a random encounter of like SEVEN TROLLS and what's worse; they had surprise on Daria.
Surprise check was about to kick the party's rear again but this time, much worse.
Grommz and Olivier weren't in their full plate armor because they were sleeping. And Rapunzel wears no armor at all. Only Daria was fully geared and ready. But all of them were still surprised.
I checked the encounter distance and the trolls could easily get into the small PC camp and start ripping people apart. They did so and before Daria could even sound the alarm and wake up the other PCs, Rapunzel was ripped limb from limb and the trolls were gnawing on her bones. Screamed filled the night.
Grommz and Oliver jumped to their feet to fight back back the dwarf was quickly killed and ripped apart as well. Grommz's player joked that he knew that he would be killed because the dwarf in "Three Hearts, Three Lions" gets killed by a troll. The swan-mae in the book however... she survives. We were in bizzaro 3H3L.
At this point Daria and Olivier decided to flee and leave Rapunzel and Grommz to be eaten. Daria directed her charmed Giant Hawk to dive bomb and try and save Rapunzel's corpse from the trolls for the possibility of healing or saving her later. The trolls grabbed the Hawk from the air and bit its head off.
The leader of the trolls chased the fleeing Daria and Olivier on his own since I ruled he was smart enough to realize this would make it less likely for those two to successfully Wilderness Evade. The sub-chief caught up to them but the encounter distance between the three of them was such that Daria could keep distance from the troll and cast buff spells on herself. I made a Reaction check that the troll would keep playing this game and the answer was a quick "no". He fled back towards his gang to eat the priestess and dwarf.
Daria and Olivier came back to the battlefield some time later in the hopes of finding the bodies of their compatriots to no avail. They double timed it back north to Turos Quelle and ended their evening of adventure there.
Rapunzel was a PC that had come to define the campaign in many ways. When the PC was rolled the players had decided they needed more support classes. Since Priestesses get Divine Spells at level 1, unlike Clerics, Rapunzel and another Priestess named Aurora were rolled. They both debuted (iirc) in the session where Ratface led them to certain doom against a xenomorph. But the Priestesses escaped, survived, and thrived.
The Nethercity dungeon was a perfect delving spot for a mid level priestess and Rapunzel was indispensable and leading ops into the place and making clutch Turn Undead checks against the powerful mummies they found there. Much treasure was had thanks to this. Thus levels.
So anyway most of the table was bummed that Rapunzel got killed, myself included. Real D&D can be harsh. It plays for keeps!
What this session outlined for me in particular was that everything in ACKS matters. This session was ALL about the Surprise check. There are some classes and abilities which are less likely to be surprised and after the tragedy of the Trolls I realized these classes (Barbarian, Elves when outdoors, Dwarves when in dungeons) are the ones you want on night watch if you can help it.
The party realized they would be at a disadvantage doing wilderness trekking without a ranger or explorer type but night watch question wasn't given much consideration much to their detriment.
Even so, the chances of having such a powerful monster encountered at night AND have surprise AND be encounters close enough for them to take advantage of a surprise round are extremely low. This whole situation was about the dice forcing a tragedy on the table. One that might have been mitigated slightly with some player decisions but even with that it's likely it would have turned out bad.
Sometimes you get the troll sometimes the troll gets you.
oh and Grommz.
Surviving PCs Present
Daria (0% XP Bonus) Level 6 Bladedancer. 44 XP gained. Total: 27,396
Olivier (5% XP bonus) Level 2 Paladin. 45 XP gained. Total: 3,617 [LEVEL UP TO 3!]
Dama (L1 Venturer) played by RR. Current total xp: 75. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Darius LeVay (L1 Assassin) played by JB. Current Total XP:451. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Donald the Guardsman (L1 Fighter) played by MP. Current Total XP:570. DECEASED. Intra-party justice in Session 3.
Felix (L1 Thief) played by Nicholas. Current Total XP:431. DECEASED. Poison gas in Session 3.
Hektor (L1 Paladin) played by Moai. DECEASED. Cause of Death: goblin warg rider throat removal surgery in Session 2
Leonidas the Inquisitor (L1 Cleric) played by RR.Current Total XP:498 DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.
Mard the Mage (L1 Mage) played by Nicholas. DECEASED. Frozen undead blistering cold aura left his skin frostbitten and broken in Session 6. Body not recovered.
Yolo Baggins "My friends call me Swaggins" (L1 Gnomish Trickster) played by J. DECEASED. Paralyzed and eaten by ghouls in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Jack Filcher (L1 Thief) played by C. DECEASED. Shot full of arrows by Inthorn's brigands in Session 12. Body not recovered.
Swoleous Maximus (L1 Paladin). DECEASED. Captured then drawn and quartered by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Damianus (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Captured and beheaded by Inthorn the Brigand warlord in Session 12. Posthumously named "Petty Hero of Turos Tem" by Legate Valerian. Ashes offered a place of pride in the Hospital.
Bucky (L1 Barbarian). DECEASED. Became a illegal pit fighter during his downtime. Had two bouts to the death, winning the first and losing the second. Was killed by Young Jack Sparrow who sashayed into the ring, drank rum, and mogged on Bucky before putting a dagger into his ribs, killing him. This happened during downtime between Session 17 and 18.
Broll Wolf-Eater (L1 Barbarian). Current total XP: 1079. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Brother Franklin (L1 Cleric). DECEASED. Decapitated by a mad cultist of a Lovecraftian slime thing in Session 19.
Felix the Elder (L1 Bard). Total XP 825. DECEASED. Captured by mad cultists and fed to a Lovecraftian slime monster in Session 19.
Templar Flavius Africanus (L1 Cleric). Total XP 7. Killed by the claws and beak of mad harpies in Session 19.
Xendi (L1 Explorer). Total XP 6. DECEASED. Carried off by harpies after falling for their enchanting song in Session 19.
Yllmeeton (L3 Shaman). Total XP 4,563. Bludgeoned by the corpse of a bowmen by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Longinus (L2 Assassin). Total XP 2,036. Had his face ripped off by Rosie Odonnel hag in Session 21.
Mandonio (L3 Fighter). Total XP 4,779. Charred to a leprous crisp by diseased Dragon breath in Session 22.
Corydon (L1 Joker). Total XP: 0. Burnt to a crisp by chimera breath so thoroughly his corpse wasn't even fit for the crows. Died with a smile on his face and a song in his heart. that's life and as funny as it seems... some people get their kicks, stomping on a dream... In Session 25.
Donny Keebler (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP 2,238. Had his legs burned completely off by chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Marina (L2 Fighter). Total XP: 2,204. Burnt into ash by a chimera fire breath in Session 25.
Gundro (L2 Gnomish Trickster). Total XP: 2,575. Had his mouth and tongue bitten off by a lizardman ambusher in the dank sewers below Cyfaraun in Session 26.
Polydoros (L1 Fighter). Total XP: 0. Had his legs ripped off and eaten by Akira monsters in the dark canopy of the Viaspen Forest in Session 28.
Odrum (L1 Explorer). Total XP: 287. Javelin to the heart from the hands of weird vine goblins hidden in the walls of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.
Garvin the Nutless Wonder (L1 Mage). Total XP: 0. Fell off the side of Ferigno's lair 20 feet to his death in Session 30.
Blackmoon (L1 Assassin). Total XP: 768. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while stealing treasure from Ferigno's dragon horde in Session 30.
Xanthus (L2 Cleric). Total XP: 2,364. Choked to death by BOB from Twin Peaks while hanging out on the roof of Ferigno's lair in Session 30.
Lord Zyklon (L1 Elven Spellsword). Total XP: 0. LORD ZYKLON DISEMBOWLED LORD ZYKLON upon finding himself on the losing side of the Desolation of Turos Tem.
Turin (L1 Cleric). Total XP: 0. Eaten by Wargs in Session 32.
Rat Face (L2 Thief) Total XP: 1,577. Seemingly grabbed in the dark by a Xenomorph in Session 36. In a sinkhole your party can hear you scream!
Smarticus (L1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Captured by a Xenomorph in Session 36 for all the party to witness. Taken deep into a sinkhole.
Hearticus (L1 Cleric) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 after projectile vomiting all over himself from the stink of sewer sludge.
Mickey Mouser (L1 Thief) Total XP: 0. Gored to death by giant horned beetles in Session 39 in the happiest place on earth: the Cyfaraun sewer!
Aenes (Level 1 Paladin) Total XP: 62. Swarmed by giant flies in the sewer beneath Cyfaraun in Session 40.
Acianus (Level 1 Mage) Total XP: 0. Chopped to pieces in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue from behind and quickly forgotten about by his compatriots who saved MadEye and lamented Hardar instead. But I'll never forget you Acinanu nanu...nanite... nananaa...
Hardar (Level 2 Mage) Total XP: 2,832. Chopped up in Session 42 by a six armed demon statue as he held his Darth Vader Choking Grip spell long enough for his compatriots to escape an unwinnable battle. His dream to become the most evil being in the universe suffers eternally the indignity of being remembered for self sacrifice and laying his life down for his friends.
Nubbs (Level 3 Thief) Total XP: 4,017. Swarmed by scarabs which bored into his ears and brain in Session 45.
Grummz (Level 1 Dwarven Vaultgard) Total XP: 0. Ripped limb from limb by a throng of skeletons and their undead golem leaders in Session 46.
Grommzs (Level 1 Dwarven Vaultguard) Total XP: 2,168. Torn to bits and eaten by trolls in session 48
Rapunzel (Level 4 Priestess) Total XP: 11,540. Torn to bits and eaten by trolls in Session 48.
Alexa this is so sad play "horse with no rider" from the Tangle official motion picture soundtrack