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I ran my first session of second edition this past weekend, and in this thread I will chronicle my experiences in case it is of help to fellow GMs. We play every two weeks so my updates here will be reflected accordingly.
Oan Wescran (an alias): male human fighter, a minor son of a minor noble family of Cheliax, in hiding from his family and the Chelaxian navy after being involved in the recent events in Kintargo, currently in hiding as a Breachill town guard.
Chiana Zataal: female elven rogue, former agent of the Aspis Consortium, on the run from Bloodcove after a failed sabotage mission involving her loveless marriage to an influential member of the East Mwangi Mining Company. Sold to the Consortium by her parents at a young age to pay off a debt, all she has of them is a medallion of her father’s: a medallion bearing the sunburst of the Order of the Nail.
Tendulkar: male halfling bard, escaped slave from a farm in Isger, dedicated to freeing his kin from shackles.
Jack Daw: male human druid of the Green Faith from the River Kingdoms, bastard son of the Stag Lord, raised by a giant talking Raven that may have been a permanently wildshaped druid, currently following up on rumors of a sibling he’s never met being in Breachill. Having grown up in the wild raised by a bird, he does not relate well to people but has a crow companion for company.
There are many house rules in my game, two of which are important to the first session:
1. I use Plot Twist cards from first edition as Hero Points. Players get one card per Hero Point. These are more for the narrative elements on the card as the mechanical elements are not exactly suited for second edition. Cards can be awarded to players for exceptional roleplaying or otherwise creating an awesome moment. Each player starts a session with one card and gets another if they show up on time and ready to play. I also can award one to players who keep me honest by reminding me of rules or other things I may have forgotten. These cards can also be used as per normal Hero Points. Cards not used in a session are returned to the deck and new ones are drawn the next session. I reserve the right to modify or deny the player's attempted use of a card in case it is overpowered or just doesn't make sense in the situation.
2. For critical hits the attacker only rolls damage once, then they add the maximum damage that a normal attack does. Example: an 18 Strength longsword critical hit would do 12+1d8+4 damage. This means critical hits always deal between 101%-200% of the damage that a normal hit does.
Things kicked off per the adventure as written, with the exception being that Oan was on duty in the Town Hall and not an aspiring adventurer. The party had a difficult time extinguishing the fire, and spent most of their time fighting the mephit and helping people escape. Chiana pickpocketed a few people as she assisted them out of the building, obtaining some cheap costume jewelry as well as a locket with a tiny portrait of a handsome elven fellow in it (I plan on involving this fellow at a later point in the adventure). After the mephit was defeated they tried to extinguish the fire with buckets of water but by this time it was too large to manage, covering about a third of the chamber. Eventually Jack played a Plot Twist card (Best Day Ever – Everything works out just right) to have the roof collapse on the western side of the building and smother the fire. For his ingenuity in using a Plot Twist to resolve the problem of the fire I awarded him another card.
Once outside, taking stock of the situation and seeing to the wounded, Oan, being a bit of an anarchist, played a Plot Twist card (Tragedy – Disaster threatens to repeat) to have the fire flare up again from the embers, causing the eastern half of the building to ignite. Jack then played a second card (Schadenfreude – A flood threatens to destroy a foe’s home) and I ruled that one of the water towers in Monument Circle was weakened by the fire, causing it to collapse into the Town Hall, spilling its contents and extinguishing the fire for good. At this point Greta asked the party to track down Calmont, with Captain Wilford Lavendil of the town guard tasking Oan to escort the heroes and bring Calmont back alive for questioning. Warbal escorted the party to Citadael Altaerein, but remained outside as she waited on word about the fate of her tribe.
The party entered the citadel through the hole in the wall near the Court of the Nail. Fighting the graveshells, Oan scored a critical hit with his guisarme after Tendulkar cast Magic Weapon on it. He dealt 44 points of damage in one blow (24+2d10+4), slaying the final graveshell with ease (this would have killed it twice over even had it been at maximum health). The party then moved into the Records Room, with Chiana eager to find any information about her family that she could. The rats there put up a surprising amount of resistance, dodging past foes in the cramped hallway to get to the easier targets of Chiana and Tendulkar. Dangerously wounded at 1 HP, Chiana was able to escape danger as her companions slew the rats at last.
That’s where we ended the session. We played for about five hours and the session was received well by both myself and the players. I look forward to seeing what these characters do in the future.
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Our second session lasted about six hours and was an unexpected experience, for reasons which will quickly become obvious.
Continuing to search for information about her father, Chiana leads the way into the Clerk's Chamber, rooting around in the documents there. When Tendulkar enters he spots the bat hanging from the ceiling and takes a shot at it with his bow, missing it. Then things went very, very wrong for the party.
The bat swoops down and crits Chiana, dropping her to Dying 2. Oan plays the first Plot Twist card of the session (Second Wind - Target gains the benefit of the diehard feat for the rest of combat) on her to help prevent her from dying. The remaining party members engage the bat but aren't very effective against it, rolling quite low. A second card is played (Sloth - Target becomes exhausted (there is no exhausted condition in 2e so I ruled the bat was instead fatigued)) to help lower the bat's defenses. As the fight rages on the bat rolls very high, landing crit after crit on the party (I rolled four 18s & 19s in a row). Another card is played (Cliffhanger - A dying target stabilizes immediately) to stabilize Tendulkar after he is dropped. Oan plays his second card of the fight (and last he has) to help defend himself from the bat (Bad News - Target gets a -4 penalty on a single roll). Nothing the party does helps very much though, as one by one they are dropped, including Jack's raven companion. When the dust settles all four PCs are down, Chiana having been dropped twice after a healing potion brought her back up. It is then that Tendulkar plays his first card of the campaign (Witness to History - A remarkable event changes lives) and I ruled that Alak heard the fight against the bat and arrived just after the party was fully dropped. He slew the bat and set about healing the party with potions. It is worth noting that had the party not used a Plot Twist card in this way, this would have been a TPK. I was amazed that this happened, but that’s the cruelty of RNGesus for ya. Going forward I suspect the entire party will let Jack attempt to interact with animals before they attack.
When they are all conscious, Alak introduces himself and tells them a bit about his story. After some time talking, the party realizes that they are in no condition to continue exploring the citadel this day and decide to head back into town and come back the next day. Oan goes to his barracks and the others get a room at the Roaring Pony, where Alak has a room. They lick their wounds, take solace in alcohol and rise the next day ready to get back into it.
The next morning the party was pretty disorganized, and spent the morning largely separated, doing their own thing in town. Tendulkar went to Cayden Keg’s and spent his morning singing songs to the hungover patrons there for a few coppers. Jack spent his time in the common room of the Roaring Pony making soup from the remains of the graveshell he brought back with him, much to the chagrin of morning staff. Chiana went to the Reliant Book Company to see if she could find some books there about the Order of the Nail. Despite me dropping hints from Voz, she didn’t catch on to ask about Calmont, whom the party knew was a former employee here, but instead browsed the shelves looking for promising books. She found one written in Infernal and stole it, but also paid a few coppers for another book to not seem suspicious. Not able to read Infernal, she took it back to Alak at the Roaring Pony to investigate. It turns out this was a romance novel that Alak had already read several times, and thus not exactly what she was hoping for, but everyone got a kick out of it. Oan spent his morning trying to gather up the scattered party members to head back to the citadel, and eventually was able to do so by about midday. Once the party was gathered, they ventured forth once again. Arriving at the citadel, they see the signal smoke is no longer rising from the battlements, an ominous sign.
Re-entering the citadel the same way they did the day before, they heard the warg pups and spent some time investigating the area and wondering what to do about them. They consulted with Warbal and after she assured them that the Bumblebrashers didn’t raise wargs but that the mean goblins were known to, they left some graveshell meat for the pups and decided to leave them there for now, planning on coming back later.
They made their way through the rest of the northern half of the citadel, finding the corpse of an adult warg (after the previous ordeal against the bat I didn’t feel like having them fight another level 2 foe right away) and encountered the skeletons in the Holding Cells. The skeletons were dispatched without much problem and the party moved south. Seeing the courtyard as a potential trap they skirted around it and made their way through the Drill Auditorium and Mess Hall, ending up in the Training Hall. Tendulkar found the secret door and passed through it. His keen halfling eyes also spotted the spear launcher trap, which Chiana was able to disarm.
We ended the session there and I think one more session will have them finish off the rest of the first floor and then the battlements. We’re progressing slowly but I think we’re all having fun, with non-combat activities taking up a good portion of each session. My players really like getting into the roleplaying portion of the game, and continue roleplaying with each other in character when I have to leave the room. They’re a great group and I look forward to seeing what they do the next time we play.
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The third session was played two weeks ago but I did not post about it at the time. We played for roughly six hours with about an hour or so dedicated to the party advancing to 2nd level. We also had to deal with a sick child, so not all of the remaining five hours were spent playing.
After finding the secret door to the outside on the western side of the citadel, the party investigated the Test Arena, with Jack being concerned that its continued existence will enable devils to be summoned (I decided that there were no imps here since Alak would have slain them the previous day). Nonplussed, the rest of the party decides to move on.
They find Yoletcha’s shelter and Jack sets fire to it as Oan tries to kick it down. Yoletcha emerges to defend her home and is slain.
The party finds the goblin dogs in the Foyer and leaves them alone for the time being.
Entering the courtyard they are set upon by the grauladon there, but it is temporarily confused and is slain without much effort (Sanity Check: Target becomes confused for 3 rounds).
The party climbs the rope to find the Bumblebrasher tribe and Helba mourning the loss of Yippie the goblin, who was slain by Calmont the previous day. Helba tearfully explains she gave Calmont the information he was seeking: a way into the citadel’s vaults. Helga also tells the PCs about the secret entrance located a little ways down the western slope of the hill and gives them a rough map of the vaults. The PCs level up to 2 before proceeding.
In the northern wing of the citadel’s basement, the party encounters several boggards and charau-kas of the Cinderclaw Cult. Most are slain but one charau-ka is taken captive. From this captive the party learns of the cult members being trapped in the vaults, of their worship of Dahak, and that they came through a portal with their leader, Malarunk.
In an artificial bog in the citadel’s underground living quarters Jack found a mysterious scroll case (Lucky Day: Target finds a single item worth 50 gp or less).
The party encountered the emperor birds that are lost and confused in the dark, and they pacified the birds with offers of graveshell meat. Jack left a lit candle near them so they could see, even if just a little bit.
All in all things went much more smoothly for the party as they have learned to heal between fights when hurt. This makes sense as they often have one or two members searching the area anyway.
My party also discovered the wonders of healing between fights, they are now a little forward than yours, they already encountered the bear, or did not, they managed to get him outside without fighting him.
As for the birds, mine went with Light and the pc that had light casted went right in front of the birds.. it was a fun fight!
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Our fourth session was last weekend, and a sitter was obtained, so no need to deal with sick children. Hooray!
Though a closed door, the party hears foes in the Antechamber and set an ambush for the boggard and charau-kas outside Big Bumble's room, promptly slaying them. Jack casts speak with animals and learns of BB's plight and that he has been locked in this room for some time with little food. Jack feeds the bear some meat and the bear is let out as it promised to eat the halfling Jack told it about (Calmont - however since Tendulkar is also a halfling this lead to some concern on his part). However, as soon as BB is out of the room it gorges itself on the corpses of boggards and charau-ka the party has been fighting and then leaves, apparently headed to the exit and freedom.
The party enters the War Room, and Chiana picks up the soulbound doll, whereupon it comes to life, screaming “Take me with you!” in Infernal and attacking her. Chiana flings it to the ground and retreats, and the party dispatches the doll with alchemist’s fire. Oan, being the only party memebr that speaks Infernal, pockets the soul gem from inside the doll as the party leaves the room. I have some plans to utilize this soul gem in the future that I am really looking forward to.
As the party enters the Southern Armory, the gelatinous cube lurches forward. Chiana is paralyzed, Oan and Jack are alternately engulfed, and the party has a generally tough time against the ooze before BB the grizzly bear charges into the room (Plot Twist: GM rolls for a random encounter). BB is promptly engulfed but manages to slay the ooze from inside. Once the ooze discorporates, BB leaves the room, once again heading for the smell of fresh air and the freedom it promises. The party finds the remains of Calmont - he was being digested inside the ooze.
After a brief discussion about returning to town to report Calmont's death and collect their reward, the party decides to press on, in the Northern Armory the party encounters the kobolds Pibb and Zarf. They realize these are the “MITEY DRAGONS” whose lair they had found earlier, and Jack (who speaks Draconic) tricks Pibb into approaching when he offers meat, whereupon Oan promptly chomps Pibb in half with a critical from his guisarme. The rest of the party slays Zarf before the kobold can even react. Chiana is sad as she thought the pair were cute and wanted to parley with them.
Chiana finds the secret door to the Hall of Lictors where wights stand guard over sarcophagi. She discovers that they do not attack her because of her medallion, and she uses the medallion to open the sarcophagus and find the Zataal heirloom (the party's first magic weapon - a +1 striking dagger) and a note from her father while the rest of the party waits outside so as to provoke the wights. She then opens the remaining sarcophagi and takes the weapons found within. The party spends some time examining the runes on the wall, but cannot figure out what they are for.
Entering the Sepulcher of the Nail, Chiana starts to unlock more sarcophagi while Jack discovers the skeletal guardians. In the ensuing fight the skeletal hellknight chops Jack down multiple times after Jack destroys three skeletons with one blow from his shillelagh (it had the Explosive Death trait and Jack did 43 points of damage on a critical - more than 10x the skeleton's maximum HP!). Oan brings the remaining skeletons down with his new magic halberd, finishing the skeletal hellknight by smashing a vial of holy water into its face. The other party members are not too happy that their rogue spent almost the entire fight looting instead of fighting.
We played for a solid six hours. It's refreshing how smoothly things go when sick children aren't around as a distraction.
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Session five was a short one as we ended earlier than normal and some time was taken once again for the characters to advance in level during the session.
Exploring the Ossuary, the party is set upon by the Hellcrowns, which are defeated without much difficulty, though Oan takes a few nails during the fight. Tendulkar finds the wand of heal and gives it to Jack as he is the only one that can use it currently.
Moving into the Vault of the Nail the party finds Alak’s ring as well as the scrolls and holy symbol of Alseta. Chiana pockets the ring and vows the get it to Alak, who is back in town. Each party member examines the candles and ashes on the table but not a single one of them is able to determine what kind of spell was cast in this room as arcana and religion are not anyone’s strong suit. Some time is spent examining the tracks here and Chiana is able to determine that whoever left them entered from the back room, exiting through the western door and then came back through this room in a big hurry. The party deduces that the skeletons they defeated previously were the cause of this hasty exit.
In the Regalia Storage room the banner for the Order of the Nail is discovered, but due to its size it is decided to leave it here for Alak to come recover if he wishes. Examining the tunnel in the eastern wall Jack determines that it is both magical in origin and heading straight back to town. They take the tunnel back to town, and as they are halfway back Oan hears in his mind a high-pitched voice speaking Infernal. He alone hears the voice say “Thank you for taking me with you.” The party advances to 3rd level before reaching the end of the tunnel.
Finding the ladder and trapdoor at the end of the tunnel, the party ascends into the storage room of the Pickled Ear. Not finding this particularly odd they move through the kitchen into the taproom, where Roxie proceeds to yell at them. Anxious to receive their reward for tracking down Calmont (whose body they have been carrying with them this entire time) they are eager to see the town council, but being well after midnight they will have to wait until the morning.
Back at the Roaring Pony Chiana gives the ring to Alak, who thanks her for reuniting him with his father’s ring. Chiana expresses interest in learning Infernal from Alak and flirts with him a bit before heading to her own room for the night.
In the morning Tendulkar spends some time at the livery feeding his mule Amy, and after a hearty breakfast of apples and graveshell meat the party heads out to see the council. Since the town hall is partially destroyed the council is conducting their business at Wizard’s Grace. Calmont’s demise is explained to the council as well as what the current status of the citadel is, and the party begins making plans for converting the citadel into a proper defense for the town, aiming at having the Bumblebrashers run and maintain it.
We played for about five hours, though a good chunk of that was taken up with the characters advancing in level. We also spent some time talking about politics and such (Happy Thanksgiving everybody!), likely due to the copious amount of wine consumed during the session.
Since they didn't speak much at all with Roxie or the patrons at the Pickled Ear I will have to come up with some way for them to speak with her again, or otherwise find their way back to Voz's bookshop. It is starting to look like I will need to be heavier-handed with breadcrumbs for this party.