Monday, May 15, 2017

Rise of the Runelords Recap # 15 [RPG]

[6 Lamashan 4707 continued]

Having defeated two yeth hounds in a difficult battle, the party discuss their next course of action.  Nedrin suggests barricading a room and resting for the night, but Shalelu urges her allies to press on before Nualia, the mastermind behind the raid on Sandpoint, can escape.  Encouraged by Shalelu’s liberal use of a healing wand, the group agree.  They quickly search the chapel that had been guarded by the yeth hounds.  Felix spends several minutes yanking free the two glowing kukris held by the statue of the demon goddess Lamashtu.

The adventurers then head for the “secret” door they learned about by surprising Lyrie Akenja during her research.  Arnald takes the lead as the group head down a flight of stairs to emerge at a deeper subterranean area.  This level is canted, forcing the adventurers to walk at an upwards angle as they move east.  They pass through a large room containing several statues of a man in robes clutching a book and glaive, but it’s clear that whatever ancient upheaval tilted the floor also severely damaged the statues.  The eastern door is ajar, and when Arnold opens it, the end begins for two of the brave explorers.

Nualia and her Yeth Hounds
The doorway leads to a short, narrow hallway, with alcoves to the north and south containing statues of stern men wielding glaives.  At the end of the hallway are two sets of stone doors to the north and south, but standing at that point is the group’s quarry:  Nualia!  The beautiful silver-haired aasimar has madness in her violet eyes, her left hand has been transformed into a red talon, and she wears the distinctive scars on her stomach of one specially favoured by Lamashtu herself!  “The so-called Heroes of Sandpoint have ventured thus far,” she spits out arrogantly, “so come at me then, if you dare!”  Arnald takes the challenge and charges down the hallway, only to fall prey to a cunning trap!  A pair of metal portcullis slam down right in front and right behind him as he crosses the area right in front of the statutes, and then the glaives begin hacking downward.  Nualia laughs maniacally and enters the room to the north, but from the same doorway emerges one of the dreaded yeth hounds.

Felix comes to his trapped ally’s aid and helps Arnald lift up the portcullis that served to cut him off from the others, and the rescue came at a good time, as, seconds later, a pit opens on the very spot Arnald had been standing on!  When the trapdoor raises shut, the other portcullis also raises up and the statues stop their attack.  Shalelu, Nedrin, and Arnald decide to fight the yeth hound from a distance with archery, but the creature darts pass their barrage of arrows and flies over their heads, landing behind them to cut off their escape.  Then the creature unleashes its horrific howl which sends Shalelu, Felix, and Arnald fleeing in absolute terror to the east . . . right into the grinning visage of Nualia, who has returned fully prepared for battle!  Able only to cower in fear, Felix soon falls before the demon-worshipper’s bastard sword.  “Your blood is well-spilt,” she cackles, “and will only speed the cleansing of my revolting celestial taint!”

Nedrin is the only adventurer capable of fighting, and heroically duels the yeth hound one-on-one. The hobgoblin is sorely taxed but ultimately prevails and decapitates the creature!  Nualia shows admiration rather than anger, however, and starts channelling waves of pure demonic energy through the room, sapping the adventurers’ strength!  “You will make a fine sacrifice to the Demon Mother,” she promises Nedrin, as the hobgoblin finally falls.  Shalelu and Arnald, badly hurt but finally recovered from the supernaturally terrifying howl of the yeth hound, have no choice but to flee from the almost completely uninjured cleric of Lamashtu.  “The bones of my father were but the first to be burned on the Mother of Monster’s altar,” Nualia shouts as they flee, “and soon all of Sandpoint will be next!”

Shalelu and Arnald run up the stairs and over to the cave where the tentamort once looked out over the waves below.  They hurriedly climb down the rope and into the rowboat tethered at the bottom of the cliffside.  Their return voyage to Sandpoint is a solemn one of shocked silence.  When they arrive back at the community, the pair leave the boat at the docks and walk in silence to the Garrison.  There, they deliver the news of the group’s failure to Sheriff Hemlock.  Hemlock says it’s regrettable to hear about the deaths of Felix and Nedrin, but that another assault will have to be made on Thistletop to bring Nualia to justice before she can gather reinforcements and launch another attack on the town.  He promises to look into finding others who would be willing to take on such a dangerous mission.

Sister Celia
Once they reach the Rusty Dragon, Shalelu pushes through the lunchtime crowd and heads straight to her room.  Arnald quickly knocks back a tankard of ale and speaks to the tavern’s halfling barmaid, Bethana Corwin.  Arnald explains that he’s in Sandpoint to protect it and drive off the goblin threat, but that his cause has suffered a severe setback.  Bethana mentions that adventurers who tell an entertaining or moving story to their fellow patrons receive a room at half-price, but Arnald explains that he’s not in the mood.  He does find himself the object of attraction for a fellow newcomer to Sandpoint: a new acolyte at the Cathedral named Sister Celia, an attractive woman in her early 40s.  Sister Celia explains that she worships Shelyn, goddess of beauty, love, and dance.  She flirts with Arnald but he rebuffs her advances and leaves to resupply for another expedition.

Katrine Vinder
Visits to Savah’s Armory and Bottled Solutions are productive, but Arnald unwittingly walks into an argument when he visits the town’s general store.  The proprietor Ven Vinder is yelling at his daughter Katrine that he doesn’t want her “going around with that fellow from the mill anymore.”  Katrine shouts back that she loves “Banny.”  When Vin sees Arnald enter, the storekeeper shouts “no adventurers!” and threatens the sellsword with his cudgel while angrily denouncing Felix (whom he doesn't know is now deceased) for “violating my chaste princess” (referring to his other daughter, Shayliss).  Arnald wisely leaves before violence ensues.  Instead, he walks over to the Goblin Squash Stables and buys some barding for his horse.  Conversation turns to the local goblin tribes, and Daviren explains that in Mosswood, the tribe is broken into several warring families and that one of the families is deformed and rumoured to worship Lamashtu.  Arnald makes one final stop, this time visiting the cathedral where he meets the other new acolyte, a halfling priestess of Erastil named Sister Erica.  Arnald is disappointed when, instead of the powerful magic he seeks, Sister Erica offers him spiritual development by letting him help out in the garden behind the building.

Arnald returns to the Rusty Dragon as the sun sets.  He sees Sister Celia flirting with Vorvashali Voon and awkwardly intrudes, before heading up to his room for the night.

[7 Lamash 4707]

A new day dawns over Sandpoint.  But after the raids on Thistletop, is the town safer or in even more danger?

Director's Commentary (15/05/2017)

So here it was, the big boss fight to end Chapter 1 of Rise of the Runelords.  I'm sorry to say things just did not go in the PCs' favor.  One problem was that the earlier fight against the yeth hounds alerted everyone in the whole fortress that intruders were present, because their cries can be heard at least 300' away.  This alerted Nualia and allowed her to institute a cunning plan when the PCs appeared on her level--she lured Arnald into the trap, then retreated to her chamber to fully buff for a few rounds, then (and most wickedly) had a yeth hound bay *behind* the PCs so they would run *towards* her instead of away from her.  Some of these tactics were a bit more devious than those given in the book, but I also wanted to account for the advance warning she had.  

Felix just got worn down over several rounds and expired unceremoniously, while Nedrin put up a heroic fight in destroying the yeth hound before being repeatedly assailed by something he couldn't do anything about: Nualia's ability to channel negative energy.  It was sad to see both characters die, especially Felix since he was one of the starting characters for the game.

I really liked the idea of the canted level giving an advantage over combatants on higher ground, but despite making myself a reminder card I think I and the players consistently forgot to apply it.  Sometimes with so much going on, it's really hard to remember little bonuses!  I'm also not the best (though I try) at having NPCs talk, mock, and reveal some of their personality or backstories during battles, otherwise they're often complete enigmas.  I'm sure that during the battle, I didn't word Nualia's statements quite so articulately, but that's one of the advantages of a recap.

There's a very quick appearance by Katrine Vinder because I wanted to introduce her ahead of what I knew was going to happen in Chapter Two.  Alas, I don't think it helped in terms of narrative because Arnald's player didn't remember meeting her (and I can't really blame him).

Next Recap

No comments: