Closing in on the end of Doomsday Dawn, the guys from the Order of the Amber Die are here with their report on Part 6—"Red Flags"! Keep in mind that there are spoilers in this report, so if you haven't played through the adventure and don't want to know any secrets, come back after you're done.
As you've probably noticed from our blog reports over the years, our members enjoy the sense of competition that comes from pitting themselves against published adventures. With this in mind, one of the ways we've maintained our intensity through so many complete playthroughs and reports of each playtest scenario has been to track our team's win/loss record. Part 1: Win. Part 2: Loss. Part 3: Win. Part 4: Loss. Part 5: Loss. So, at 2–3 it was clear going into Part 6 that we needed a win if we even wanted a chance to finish out with a positive record. Two factors upped the pressure even more, and the first was the author himself. In nearly 150 published adventures completed, and despite being aware of his long involvement in the history of the game, by random chance we had never played an adventure by Stephen Radney-MacFarland. The second factor had to do with a certain name he chose for a sunken ship in this adventure: Blackguard's Revenge. Everyone in OAD fears that name, since we have quite a storied relationship with the 2005 module by the same name (described here); we had no choice but to take it as a sign that Besmara herself had a stake in part six of our playtest.
Since we were headed to what was essentially a pirate party in "Red Flags," we decided to make the session into some revelry of our own—complete with the best laughs of our playtest run. This scenario also had the largest map of the playtest, so we turned to the talents of Black Bard Studios, who brought its 10-foot scale to life by crafting a setup of the entire coastal stronghold: thirty-five square feet! Adding some nice accents were the latest pieces from Bannerless Builds and Blue Table Painting. With our seafaring personas ready, we were on our way!
This was the scenario in which we were to create a party that was heavily roleplaying focused. We added our own playtest goal of making characters who took advantage of the new archetype system to give us the feel of multiclass characters from previous editions. Each player also had to choose how their particular character served the Esoteric Order of the Palatine Eye. Also listed are the names of each player on the team who committed their time to this detailed playthrough, and the year each became a member of the Order (when a player reaches 100 hours at our table).
Raven Stormclaw human sorcerer (rogue archetype) 14
Key Spells: dimension door, see invisibility, spider climb, passwall
Class Feats: Widen Spell, Conceal Spell, Rogue Dedication, Basic Trickery: Trap Finder, Reach Spell, Skill Mastery, Advanced Trickery: Light Step
Role in the Esoteric Order: Spy
Played by Matt Hardin, Player Captain (2003)
Nezam human wizard (bard & fighter archetypes) 14
Class Feats: Hand of the Apprentice, Bard Dedication, Basic Muse's Whispers: Lingering Composition, Conceal Spell, Inspirational, Fighter Dedication, Opportunist, Effortless Concentration
Key Spells: illusory disguise, passwall, telepathic bond, true seeing
Role in the Esoteric Order: Archivist
Played by Daniel Scholler (2007)
Ehsan Hashen human alchemist (rogue archetype) 14
Class Feats: Alchemical Savant, Rogue Dedication, Sneak Attacker, Basic Trickery: Nimble Dodge, Enduring Alchemy, Poison Antidote , Evasiveness, Potent Poisoner
Key Formulas: silvertongue mutagen, deathcap poison, quicksilver mutagen, elixir of life
Role in the Esoteric Order: Researcher
Played by Erick Germer (2007)
Captain James Adalay human rogue (fighter archetype) 14
Rogue's Technique: Finesse Striker
Class Feats: Nimble Dodge, Fighter Dedication, Unbalancing Blow, Fighter Resiliency, Sly Striker, Trap Finder, Basic Maneuver: Sudden Charge, Twist the Knife, Instant Opening
Role in the Esoteric Order: Diplomat
Played by Sean Linville (2016)
"Red Flags" By The Numbers
Player Tracking Sheet
- Average time spent in character creation: 149 minutes
- Number of times a character reached 0 Resonance: 0
- Number of critical fails when overspending Resonance: 0
- Number of times a character ran out of spell slots: 0
- Number of times a character ran out of spell points: 0
- Number of Hero Points used: 18; 5 (Raven), 5 (Nezam), 4 (Ehsan), 4 (Captain James)
GM Tracking Sheet
- Total time spent playing "Red Flags": 10hrs, 5min
- Total time spent preparing "Red Flags": 6hrs, 40min
- Number of sessions spent playing "Red Flags": 3 (session increments are 4 hours)
- Total number of Hero Points given out: 36
- Number of characters reduced to 0 HP: 3; Nezam (2), Captain James (1)
- Number of characters killed: 1 (Nezam)
- Amount of gold spent earning influence in Plumetown: 407gp
- Number of party rests: 0
- Uses of Deception (impersonate): 3
- Successful Deception (impersonate) attempts: 2
- Uses of Read Lips: 2
- Attacks of Opportunity: 2
- Successful Attacks of Opportunity: 1 (40 damage, interrupted spell)
- Poison attempts: 0
- Total uses of Stealth skill: 1
- Successful Stealth uses: 1
Captain James Adalay
- Uses of Diplomacy skill: 8
- Critical successes (Diplomacy): 4
- Successes (Diplomacy): 2
- Failures (Diplomacy): 1
- Critical Failures (Diplomacy): 1
Highlights From "Red Flags"
Adjusting to a new edition was bound to bring a couple of humorous stumbles, and this scenario had our favorite of any scenario. We were pumped to open the session strong, and after some shouts of encouragement at the table, fired off the teleport spell that would take us to the island known as the Smoker. Though we were expecting an exciting description of the place to follow, we instead saw water. Lots of water, and we were in it. The new rules for teleport meant that because it was more than 100 miles from Caliphas to the Shackles, we would arrive with a 1% margin of error. Good thing we were packing a second teleport!
The guest list for the gala included a contract devil, an evil sorcerer (the party's nemesis) and his goblin butler, along with the host of the festivities—a tengu Free Captain. Let's just say this gave a certain emphasis to the 'ole "Let's try to blend in." We've got to hand the roleplaying MVP award to Sean, and after you see how his dice aided his words, you'll also understand how he survived a diplomatic dance with the devil.
After our social skills were tested, the scenario took a twist, and we had to make our way past several high-level traps. One such trap was a series of shifting portals that appeared to forcefully thrust anyone with an incorrect guess backwards onto iron spikes. We could try to figure it out, or like high-level characters should be able to do, lean on our abilities. Three castings of passwall later, we were headed deeper into the fortress.
Going up against a kraken was likely to send someone to the Boneyard. Nezam did everything he could to stay alive, but the beast ground through his hero points and crushed the wizard into data to feed our playtest.
Headed into the final encounter, things couldn't have been stacked any worse against a team desperate for a win. We had to face a kraken with our least combat-oriented party of the entire playtest. As its many tentacles bore down on us with a 60-foot reach, we were moments from accepting that it was all over. Then we remembered the mission goal and realized that we didn't have to beat the kraken—just get past it. Thanks to a combination of the cave's unique layout, several timely castings of dimension door, and three characters with the Quick Unlock skill feat, we pulled off one of the canniest victories in OAD history. We're 3–3 overall now, and headed into the final scenario with a chance to close out with a winning record!