Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Eruvian Chronicles 05 – Deep Carbon Observatory (Part 1)

Presented is my first session recap of my current campaign, 'Eruvian Chronicles.' The first four adventures went through LMoP to give all of us a feel of 5E (since out of the group, I believe I was the only one who had played 5E so far), and from here on out, I plan on making these guys sweat. A lot. We start what I call the "Real Campaign" with Deep Carbon Observatory, by Patrick Stuart. A note: we only play for about 4 hours at a time, so a lot of our time this session was taken up by Carrowmore role-playing. We'll get much deeper into the module next week.

First things first, character introductions with a tidbit of player info:

  • Picorwill "Whizz" Gearwhistle , Gnome Necro-Engineer (custom class, like a necromancer meets artificer, I may post it some day), NE (D&D vet, since OD&D)
  • Daliah er-Ghorov, Elf Rogue, CN (D&D vet, since 3E)
  • Paetrak of the Ghost Halls, Human Barbarian, CG (total noob, first campaign)
  • Festith Vorain, Human Paladin of The Four, LN (since 4E, so never played any "real" D&D)
  • Gillie Vee, NPC Halfling Ranger, NG, been hanging with them since session 2.

I planned on Gillie being a one-off character that provided them some information and helped with a side quest, but Paetrak's player, a total noob to D&D (only been playing for 3 months) role-played the fuck out of their encounter and convinced Gillie to join them.  Now they're friends.

Second things second, the phrases listed below were heard often enough during the first part of DCO (mostly in Carrowmore as they spoke with the townspeople) that they warrant mention:

  • "Holy Shit? (as a question)"
  • "What the fuck?"
  • "What was that again?"
  • "That's dark."

Lastly, this is one of the first fully-fleshed modules I've ever run that was not a WotC module, and thus, not knowing how to handle certain things, I made a lot of assumptions and best guesses about how to handle encounters. For instance, though there is a small random encounter table that Stuart created for the journey up the flooded lands, I found his actual prepared encounters infinitely more entertaining (and beautiful in his dark and depressing way). So I scripted all encounters to happen, and it was just the PCs' choice whether or not they interacted with them, or ignored them or circumvented them somehow. I did roll randomly a couple times but I did it with a percentage chance of nothing happening. We got one finally near the end, which you'll see later.

Adventure started with the PC's arrival to Carrowmore.  They are here because their informant back in Phandelver told them an NPC enemy (Barok, will come up later), who they beat but did not kill near the end of LMoP, was fleeing this way to find allies.

They arrived amidst carnage and chaos (Seriously, buy and read the module if you haven't yet), and immediately spotted the rising column of smoke to the NE. It did not take long for the party to get separated in the flooded town. Paetrak and Gillie were sympathetic to the pleas of Curtis Ghyl and agree to carry his wife's body to their family tomb. There was much discussion on how to carry the body in the - let us say, "least odorous way possible." Eventually, Gillie helped wrap the body in some leaves that would at least cover in stenches. Yum. Meanwhile Daliah saved Selminimum Tem, and became very interested in the "ramblings of the mad priest." Through some careful negotiations, she convinced Tem to relinquish the key to the church so that she could salvage what remained of their holy relics. She has not told me her actual plans for the church yet. Finally, Festith and Whizz attempted to save the raft full of children. However, due to some poor rolls, Callao fell off and sank beneath the waters. Whizz didn't seem terribly upset, though was curious by the childrens' tales of a witch in their (former) village.

The separated groups moved through the waterlogged remains of town for a little while, though eventually Daliah decided to work on larger prey. She began looking for Barok, and instead spotted Zarathusa early on and began a long exchange with the captain. She haggled the boat price down (I started at 100gp, she got it down to 45gp) and the reward price up (1000gp), and even told a convincing lie to Zarathusa that they were here to help save the town. The rest of the party "synced up" again when they saw Terbil Tem trying to lead a child behind a dark house. They didn't find out anything about the cannibalism, but saved the kid. Afterward, they spotted Uli Guria watching them closely, but she fled when they approached. They were almost onto the cannibalism, but I guess they've figure it all out when (if) they get back to town and everyone's been eaten. They then came across Stary Hrad and almost started a fight with Alfredo and his crew. Paetrak noticed Ghar Zaghouan of the Crows on a roof watching them and decided to check him out, but couldn't find him once he arrived to the roof. The party took Hrad's offer to prove the lack of existence of treasure (especially when Hrad told them that someone similar to Barok's appearance had already left town in the same direction), and met back up with Daliah and their new boat. They did not negotiate for or even buy rations or light sources, so if they haven't thought of it by the time they get to the Observatory, I may make a kindly recommendation.

They left town about an hour and a half after arriving and worked their way up the soaked lands, learning much about boating in the process. It was approaching dark, so I had them go about two hours and then they began looking for a suitable camping spot. Halfway through the night, they heard the crying of two children, floating along on the Sarcophagus of Ambatoharanana. They helped pull the children to dry land, and then told them to stay the night with them. Daliah didn't like that idea, but the rest overruled her. In the morning, they sent the children south along the dry land with a bit of food (knocking out more of their own supplies, I might add) and investigated the sarcophagus. Whizz had a good enough Arcane Knowledge roll to know that Ambatoharanana was an ancient name for a king, but not enough to know any more than that. They opened it up and Daliah immediately called dips on the king's mask. They couldn't detect any sorts of traps so Festith decided to claim 'Varistor' as his own. Of course doing so woke the king, who reached for the sword. Daliah pushed him backward as they all dove for cover, and the king fell into the water and quickly dissolved away. He was still holding the key, so they did not get that, and though Daliah dove for a short while for the mask, she couldn't find it either. Paetrak was a bit upset with their actions (plundering an honorable warrior's tomb), but got over it quickly enough when Daliah convinced him that technically, the tomb had come to them. They broke camp around 9am.

Around 11am, they heard commotion up the ahead of them in the water. Gillie and Daliah scouted it out and spotted two men standing on top of the water shouting at each other. They could not hear the argument, but when magic started flying, they decided to step back and let the battle take its course. After a few spells, only one was left standing. That is, until he fell into the water and did not come back to the surface. This creeped the scouts out, so they reported back to the group. Everyone voted to go far around the battle site.

Not long after seeing the wizards' duel, they came across the Church of Selminimum Tem, barely hanging on against the flood waters, completely turned onto its side. Daliah got excited about this and insisted they check it out. They spent a little while figuring out the best way in (I had the door on the top instead of on the side), and eventually, Daliah just climbed her way up and used the key Tem had given her. She dropped into the church and looked around. I allowed her to find a few copies of the Optical God's holy book, "Omnes Videre," and she did find the wafers & vials in the alter. She pocketed those without telling the party and showed them just the books, which they stored in their bag.

We were getting close to our ending time, so I had them run across the toads from afar. They again decided to circumvent a distraction, much to my frustration (I really wanted to graphically describe their bloated bodies bursting, alas!) and continued north. By this point it was about 2pm and we had to wrap up. I rolled on the random encounter table and ended the session with Daliah spotting something large moving by their boat in the water just before it surfaced for just a moment. They all saw the Very Large Pike. It looked at them and then dipped below the surface. That freaked them out. Yay!

We did a post-session wrap, I was curious about what they thought so far, and they all told me they'd like a bit more action, so I will probably roll much more from the random encounter table next time. Plus, I plan on introducing them to some Corvusian Zombie Tactics pretty early on next time.

What the party knows (or suspects):

  • Something bad happend north and flooded all the lands south of it. The people in the town mentioned a dam, so that's probably the culprit.
  • There are a lot of people likely showing up soon looking for treasure.
  • The Carrowmore townsfolk have no idea what's beyond the dam, other than it 'used to be a lake.'
  • There are people watching them and they may have lots of enemies, including: Barok, Alfredo and his crew, and possibly the Crows (Paetrak was suspicious of Ghar watching them, but knows nothing more than that).
  • Zarathusa seemed a little too eager to set sail himself for the north, and had a lot of mercenary power with him. This concerned Festith and Gillie a bit, but not enough for them to think about it any further after the initial conversation.
  • They have general directions to Pollnagollum Village (from the children). They may investigate if they feel like it later.

Lastly, my thoughts on the adventure now that I'm running it (instead of just reading it):

  • It's as fun as I thought it would be.
  • Zathrusa and Zarathusa are the same person (I never spotted this typo reading it, and running it had some momentary confusion when different names popped up).
  • I'm starting to feel less sure about how I should introduce the Crows. I think I'm going to have them just do a bunch of guerilla tactics against the PCs as they travel north, and possibly wait outside the Observatory and attack them as they leave. Not sure, happy for anyone who has run this to give me their thoughts.
  • Festith really wanted to know more about the Optical God, so I'm putting in a request to Patrick Stuart to give me a write-up on him! :)

Hope you enjoyed, next time should have a lot more happening!

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