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WotW: A Knot of Thorns The Second Parchment

Game Master Xzaral

Way of the Wicked by Fire Mountain Games



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Male Probably human Computer Scientist 1/ Character Synthesizer 20/ Crazy 99

Heyo, one of the games I'm in is in need of a replacement player. You'll be adventuring with a bunch of dwarves, a gnome, and a human. While a front line fighter, or a paladin, would be awesome, I think we can find a spot for you no matter what.

If dwarves aren't your thing, then maybe you'd like to join the elves? They also need some help, badly. I think their much more desperate for a front liner and wouldn't say no to some extra healing from what I've heard. the only bad news is you're going to have to put with a wily dwarf ranger with a penchant for turning people into pin-cushions no matter which side you pick. Picking elves just delays the inevitable ;).

Chainmail's the GM and the encounters have been fun, if terrifying at times. (20 to 7 odds, the 20 had access to mounts, we didn't) Expect to have to play smart and use everything you have at your disposal.

If you're interested, you can go to one of the two threads below. Tell them Brask sent you.


Xanos wrote:
their feel is very Monte Haul, lots of posturing, a very kick-in-the-doors play style, as opposed to our more cautious stealth based approach. it's neat to see the differences.

I really agree. I've been following both games and it is very cool to see how differently PCs approach this campaign.

Very enlightening as well.

I think these sort of observations help me with designing future adventures. You're seeing how the rubber meets the road in actual play.

Anyways, game on.

Gary McBride
Fire Mountain Games

Glad you're enjoying it, Gary. Thanks for the adventure. :)

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Definitely enjoying it. I hope you are as well!

DM, you mind if we do a quick discussion of our approach to Blackerly's room here in Discusion? or would you prefer that we do it in-character?

HP: 38/38 AC 22/14/18: F+6, R +4, W+1*, Per:0, Init: +11

just an FYI, but I will be away on an extended business trip until next Friday. Should have limited connectivity but expect some RP-limited inputs until then. And if I'm holding up the action in any way please feel free to put me on autopilot..

Can I just carry our full-attacking Kalina-buzz-saw around? Letting her wood-chippify all the baddies Cain can get adjacent to?


Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

I like this plan...

So long as I get to brain at least ONE guy with my Laughing Demon Mace. Even the name makes me smile.

King of Talingarde

Thanks for dropping in, Gary! This has been a fun adventure so far. I've done it for my home group (just finished book 1), playing in a group here on the forums (between acts 1 and 2), and running two games. Plus did Prison Break at a con. So definitely enjoying it.


If you want to discuss here in OOC, I'm fine with it either way.

King of Talingarde

Just an FYI that tomorrow morning I'm having my wisdom teeth removed. Not sure how this'll impact my posting (I'm hearing lot's of doom and gloom about it), but in case for some reason I don't post for a few days, that's why.

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

You'll have a headache for a few hours and won't be able to chew anything hard for a week, but the worst part is the numbness in your mouth for the next few hours. Apparently what they use to put you under has the same effect on me as alcohol does on a happy drunk, so I was loud and had my mother almost wetting her pants when I woke up. That said, don't let them bring a cam-corder, just in case.

Other than that you should be able to post without a problem.

King of Talingarde

Yea, I've talked to a few people. I don't think I'll have any issues, but just in case wanted to throw out a warning. Doesn't help I'm usually pretty resistant to painkillers and have a low pain tolerance (don't trust me with national secrets, I'll be teling quick).

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

The thing about wisdom teeth... it is totally variable. Some people have a horrendous time and others very little trouble. I've got three siblings and we all had all 4 teeth removed. In two cases, we had all four 'impacted' which we were assured would be 'bad'. The other two had 'easy' removals. One of my sisters was an 'easy' case and she was out for several days. My brother and I were impacted/bad and we were up that evening - not happy but doing pretty good. Basically, ya just don't know. I'll be hoping it all goes smooth for ya.

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

Plans, guys?

I'm thinking Gwyn as the 'serving maid' should pop her head into Blackerly's office. If someone's in there (the card player's maybe), she keeps her head down, does an apology, and backs out quickly. If need be, we rush in there and blitz everyone.

Does that sound good?

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

That works, but I was planning on using the disguise in case we ran across a lone guard, but that should work.

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

Right, but we want to recon these rooms if we are going on a Blackerly hunt and you've got the best chance of 'blending in'. If we are set on a straight escape, then we can ignore all these rooms I suppose.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

Sounds great

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

I guess we need to figure out what we want to do:

OPTION 1: Head for the Exit. We basically ignore Blackerly, the Warden, and everything that isn't on the direct route out of here.

OPTION 2: Limited Vengeance. We try to settle up with Blackerly but leave the Warden alone and make our escape while inflicting a reasonable amount of damage to all targets of opportunity.

OPTION 3: Vengeance with a Side of 'Slaw and Mayhem. We try to slate-wipe this whole prison on our way out - making a run on the Warden as well as Blackerly and everyone else we can reasonably kill.

So, guys, what's your pleasure? How far do we want to go?

Somewhat unrelated - my guess is that this card-game, if it isn't over, is either in Blackerly's room or in the main gatehouse that we have to go through to get out. I think we should plan accordingly.

King of Talingarde

Don't forget OPTION 4: Turn yourselves in and go to your fates quietly. I understand if you don't choose that one.

And with that, off to bed. As soon as able, we'll continue on how you decide.

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Stick with 1 or 2. Personally I'm leaning to 1 but after giving her that scar, I think Gwyn may want to take a second shot at giving Blackerly a second smile.

King Markadian V wrote:
Don't forget OPTION 4: Turn yourselves in and go to your fates quietly. I understand if you don't choose that one.

I may have one character that would do that. Funny thing is, she's a character for an evil campaign too.

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7
King Markadian V wrote:
Don't forget OPTION 4: Turn yourselves in and go to your fates quietly. I understand if you don't choose that one.

Wha?! I've got a Laughing Demon Mace that hasn't tasted blood or grey matter yet. In good conscience, I can't just go quietly... it would anger my mace. And you don't want to see my mace angry.:D

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Does it turn green and wear purple pants?

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

Only on special occasions.


{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

Xanos has no particular grudge against Blackerly. (I wasn't part of the branding scene. Don't know if I was branded or not)

...but, if it were up to him, he'd wipe out everything possible, beat Blackerly into unconsciousness, brand him, and leave him alive and completely disgraced.

So, I'm going to go with 2 :)

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

stealth: 1d20 ⇒ 14

Oops. Wrong thread. Want me to reroll, or can I keep it?

Lol. I love Price's new toy! So sad that Cain can't practically carry around the greatsword. oh well.

As to the plan, I think #2 is probably best. As much as I want to off the Warden (he may or may not be a long-term problem if we don't take him out now), the priority for us should be to a) give recompense for our branding and treatment to Blackerly, b) send a message to everyone else that following/messing with us shouldn't' be taken lightly, and c) get the hell outta dodge.

Given our very limited healing capacity, I think avoiding what are potentially very dangerous fights (the Warden) should be avoided. If we HAVE to fight, we need to try to do it on our terms.

Basically, we should keep our heads and be willing to withdraw/retreat to regroup at a defensible position if things go sour in any fight.

Those are my thoughts.

Now, as to how to move at Blackerly's office/room - I was pretty much thinking along the lines of Price's idea. Have Gwyn do a (very quick) scouting peek -- the goal being to see if he's in there, if he's alone, and if he has an easy escape route.

Then she ducks back out with a (fake) squeak of apology, then we can all prepare to pump him full of arrows/lead/arcanery.

Those are my thoughts.

I'm still in favor of setting fire to some part of the prison. ANy amount of confusion we can sew should help our escape. The kitchens, maybe? Or Blackerly's room?

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

I'm in favor of setting a fire... and Blackerly's room is probably perfect for it. I'd like to prep that room (and B's office) to go up like a tinderbox BUT not set it off until we are completely ready to launch our dash for freedom. If we start the fire before then, we have to worry about alerting the Warden and other forces that could swarm the area. If we run into serious resistance in a key juncture, say in the main gatehouse, we could set the fire to draw those forces out of there and then escape in the confusion while everyone is fighting the fire.

By preference, I'd like to keep stealth-killing for as long as possible - to reduce the strength of our enemies before we get into a stand-up fight and limit the number of guards they can send after us once we are outside the prison. That to me is the biggest reason to kill Blackerly (and the Warden if we got lucky enough). I'm expecting pursuit once we are out and then the advantage won't be ours... unless we cripple their leadership and decimate their ranks so they either lack the will to follow us or the strength to do it effectively.

For Price, this is purely a 'business' decision. She may not like being branded but she isn't going after Blackerly for that. He is a valuable piece on the chessboard and she wants to snap him out of play - leaving only pawns. The other reason for killing as many as possible - or razing the prison to the ground if we could arrange it - is to send a strong message. If 6 unarmed prisoners can wipe out the garrison of the nation's most infamous prison, that calls into question how powerful and 'in charge' the government is. In a perfect world, I'd love for Irena to be the one and only survivor of our break-out. :) We have to leave one witness to spread and magnify the tale.

So I'd love it if we could manage Option #3 - but I have my doubts that we could make it happen, so we probably shouldn't attempt it. Option #2 is probably the best choice in terms of immediate escape and staying free once we are on the road. Option #1 is good for getting out but it potentially leaves a lot of guards and leaders alive to hunt us down like dogs.

King of Talingarde

So I am back and reading up. Addressing all points.

1) Wisdom teeth extraction sucks. Especially being a 32 year old baby when it comes to pain :) But I have survived it, and the only thing keeping my mind off it are these PBPs I'm in, and the old Transformers cartoons.

2) As far as Kalina and the dagger goes, I'm fine with her making the decision when she's able to if she wants to keep it, as long as Gwyn doesn't mind.

3) From what it looks, I still need stealth rolls from Xanos (2 of them) and 2 from Kalina (2 of them). I'll go ahead and roll them, assuming you're being stealthy (there is a reason).

4) That Heavy Mace does have some odd purple paint on the handle. Weird :P

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

Can Xanos just take 20 and stay mostly back from the group? He's not very stealthy.

King of Talingarde

In this situation you could take 10, but not 20, as there is a penalty for chance of failure.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

Ok, a couple equations about the current situation:

Can the door be jammed?

Where is everyone's current positions?

I think I have an idea...

I was gonna yank Gwynn into a fake make out session against the door... which should hold the door for enough time to give the rest of you an opportunity to hide. Then hopefully they'll be distracted enough getting onto Cain for taking advantage of the help and slacking off on the job that they'll be pulled into an ambush.

At least that was my first thought. Gwynn might no enjoy it, though. :)

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

My thought was to have GJ lay down and play dead and for me to step in front of Price or Cain with my hands behind my back like I'd just been re-captured.

By the time they figure out it's a con they'll be inside in the middle of us.

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Not unless you want your kidneys replaced with daggers. :)

Keep in mind Gwyn is currently having fun, so it's not as evident that she's suffering from some self-confident issues. Something like that is likely to break something in the little thief. Although playing a character that went insane would be interesting, I don't think you guys would appreciate it.

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

With GJ in the other room, I think he is safely out of the way.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}


Now all we need is someone convincing to make like they are going for help, yank open the door and "just happen" to run into the guards. They'll see Cain and Xanos, and come running to help.

Then we have them surrounded. :)

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Well, I did invest in it, it'd be a shame not to use it.

King of Talingarde

Just to make sure I understand the plan before continuing on,

Gwyndolin will use her servant disguise near the door to lure the people on the other side of the door in.

Cain will have Xanos pressed up against the wall as though arresting him.

Grumblejack will be in the mess hall doing who knows what.

What about Price & Kalina?

Female Aasimar (Musetouched) Fighter 1/Rogue 1 HP: 11/16 AC 17/13/14: F+3, R +5, W+0 (+1 versus Charm/Compulsion), Per:+5, Init: +3

Can Price or Kalina fetch Grumblejack? Have him come bursting in if it looks like we might need him to finish things quickly.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

I'm sure they can look like they're stunned or waking up or something. Xanos is a known magic user after all.

The important part is that it looks like it's just barely under control.

Class: AC: 16|12|14 - For:+4 | Rex:+3 | Wil:+9 - Per:+15 Init:+7

I updated Price's position on the map to match my post, hopefully, with Xanos' plan it will encourage the guards to rush in.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

After I posted my little aside in Gameplay about skill checks I realized I might be stepping on Mark's toes.

It's not very clearly spelled out in the rules, but it's the only way to do it than makes sense. Statistically, the more times you roll a skill check the higher your chances of failure are. That's why multi-stage skill challenges are harder than regular ones.

Mark, as always, it's your call. How would you like us to handle skill checks?

King of Talingarde

I generally base it on the logic of the situation, how things may change, and to be quite truthful awesomeness of the scenario. As you stated, increaed numbers of skill checks, eventually failure will happen. And I want the players to enjoy the game. By that same token if there's no room to fail, it's not really a game.

For example, I required two stealth rolls for the armory. The first was to get there, which could easily have been 2 or 3 rolls apiece due to distance. The second was searching, which would've taken 1 roll for each 5' square. I ain't doing that, just no reason to. So 1 roll to get there, 1 to search.

Of these two they also had different modifiers. The first roll was easier for the guards outside the door to hear you, the second a little harder since it had a greater distance penalty as well as an additional door penalty.

In this case, the circumstances have changed slightly, as at this point the guards are getting up close and once they see Cain's face and don't recognize him, that goes from plausible to unbelievable. Which could either require a second roll, or I'd take the original and see what it would've been with the different modifiers.

So as far as skill checks go, if you feel that one would be required, go ahead and roll it. If you don't and I do feel one is needed, I'll ask for it. Does that help?

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

As I understand it, requiring multiple rolls for opposed checks is even worse. It heavily stacks the deck against the defender. Kind of a double-jeopardy situation.

Here's why:

As you mentioned, the guards are getting multiple rolls as they get closer. They are effectively getting more chances to succeed, maybe even with bonuses according to their distance.

We, on the other hand, are essentially getting more chances to fail.

Wouldn't it make more sense of our initial role to set the difficulty, and then the guards would roll as they got closer, getting extra chances at the same DC?

King of Talingarde

I do hear what you're saying Xanos. That's why I don't require numerous unneeded checks. The armory itself is a large room, and each 5' square would normally require it's own Perception roll to search, and a Stealth check to do so. I just don't like that much rolling anyway, when one check suffices.

As far as the guards, their are examples where it could be turned around, but yes generally the defender is at a disadvantage when it comes to multiple rolls. Which is why I try to minimize these rolls as well. In this case I could go either way.

What I would ask is that we continue on, see how I handle such checks as we go, and if you believe I am being unfair, to bring the topic up again. I'm not trying to skirt around the issue, but would like to have a couple more opportunities to show how I run things. In exchange I will keep your concern in mind when running things. How does that sound?

I'm fine with the above, Xzaral.

Also, about the current fight: I wish I had known about the horns before making the surprise attack. Definitely would have made either a sunder or steal attempt on it instead I a standard attack. :(

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

Please don't think I'm being pushy. I'm thoroughly enjoying this game, and this is the first instance that I've seen where I didnt completely agree with your gming style. You've earned my trust as a player and I'm fine with however you want to do things. Hell, so far, in spite if a few pretty awful stealth flubs, things have gone very much in our favor. I was thinking of it more as a discussion than an argument. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

The red flag popped up in my head when players started offering repeat rolls for checks they'd already made, without being asked for them.

I'm totally willing to drop the matter. I'd much rather play the game than talk about it.

And from my perspective (on the whole multiple roll issue), I tend to offer up more rolls than less in PbP on the off-chance that it helps progress things.

I actually agree with Xanos's observation about multiple rolls (especially multiple opposing rolls), but nothing bogs a game down quicker than a dm having to ask multiple times for skill checks from players.

I figure if I toss them out there, they can always be disregarded by the DM.

But I'm fine with running it whichever way we decide.

{Init:-1}{Perception:+8}{HP 13/13}{DEF 9/9 FF}{DR 4}{Fort +1/Ref -1/Will +5}{Channel 7/7}

I took an upper decision statistics class at he end if collage. It completely changed my views on tabletop games. It was like someone had removed blinders I didn't know I was wearing. I can't even pick up a game now without seeing statistical groupings and probability curves.

As an aside, (if anyone's curious), that concept of diminishing returns from multiple rolls is the real reason for the caster/martial disparity.

As martial characters go up in level they get more attacks. Thus is supposed to raise their power level, but what it really does is make their effectiveness contingent on multiple rolls. They end up with only partial results most of the time. (this is also why two weapon fighters are weaker than two handed fighters)

Casters, conversely, don't even make rolls. They make other people make rolls. It's why Quicken is so much more powerful than other metamagic effects. The only thing worse than a saving throw is more saving throws.

The thing about rolls is, as a general rule, the more rolls you have to make to achieve success, the less likely you are to succeed.

Class dismissed. :)

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