Saturday, 17 February 2018

Jungle Trek session 3: wyvern bait

Session three of the epic saga of a golem, a dogperson and two deeply scared humans making their way through scenic Xen'Drik. This time on Jungle Trek: trial by stone giant, wyverns on the fornicating plane, mutating altars, Dr. Pepper orchids, and Very Dumb Ogre Mages.

Our noble, heroic, stalwart explorers:

  • Drake - male human healer [non-player character, hireling]
  • Eorie - female human rogue [non-player character, hireling]
  • Santash - male kalashtar psion who shoved his mind into his psicrystal [non-player character]

And their decidedly less Good-aligned fellow travelers:

  • Indiana Gnoll - male Gnoll ranger. Whip. Deranged laugh. [player: Robert]
  • Woody the Warforged Wizard, who shall hereafter be known as Speaker-to-Cows [player: Bas]
Last session, the group introduced themselves to a tribe of stone giants who had issues with the local Drow tribe. Also a flying fortress/tomb hanging over the lake, Wyverns to watch out for, and not-so-subtle hints that three stone giant teenagers were behind the disappearances all along.

Damn kids

After a fight in the ruined school for gifted giants (last class: 40.000 years ago), the party discovers that Annoying Giant Kid #1 (hereafter known as Nephew, because I couldn't be arsed to name him) could not only shoot off invisibility spells, he was also cloaked in a big fat illusion.

Although why you'd want to hide a face like
this is beyond my understanding. Source.
Balancing weight-of-evidence against weight-of-corpse, the team decide on the happy compromise of just taking the head as evidence of Nephew's deep moral issues. They head back to the giant camp, escape a curious wyvern by summoning a magic pony, and are welcomed back...

...with, duh, accusations of having murdered Nephew and working with the despicable Drow all along. Quick talking and even quicker showing of their war trophy means they don't get smashed into a pulp just yet, just thrown into a guarded cave until the chief can go to the ruined school and check the story. The giant kids escape on the magic flying boat that makes endless rounds along the shore and to the floating mass of rock above the lake. Party decides not to pursue in the dead of night.

Briefly going back to school

Signs definitely point to there being something wrong with the giant teenagers, but just to make sure, the party treks back to the ruined tower in the lake with giant chieftain Yrthag in tow. They show earlier finds - a hexed murder-site where the three teenagers jumped a cow herd, dude's corpse near a sacrifice-o-matic magic altar, Nephew's grossly mutated headless corpse.

Chief is convinced and asks the group to bring the kids to justice.

Just one complication. The flying boat they escaped on is falling apart and can't take an adult giant's weight anymore. Could the hilariously undersized visitors, perhaps...?

Wyverns on the motherfucking plane

Party gets unceremoniously dunked into the flying funeral barge by Chief Yrthag when it briefly stops at the ruined tower. Barge groans under the load but doesn't immediately disintegrate. Did I mention the ever-curious wyverns before? I'm pretty sure I did. And the party sure wasn't surprised - displeased, but not surprised - when one of the flying beasties landed, severely damaging the barge but even more severely grabbing hold of NPC Drake and flying off.

That's the party's sole healer being carted off through the air by a highly poisonous semi-dragon, for those who are having trouble picturing the scene.

Adorkable beastie. Found here.

What's my character's motivation? Oh, crap.

And Indiana Gnoll's player, poor Robert who at the start of the campaign confessed he often has trouble deciding on his character's motivation, knows exactly what his Indiana Jones knock-off would do. Try to whip-catch hold of the Wyvern, tame it in mid-air, and wrestle it back to where it needs to go of course!

Some good rolls, even better use of action points and lucky not-getting-stabbed-in-the-guts-with-insta-death-wyvern-poison later, Indy manages to force the wyvern, the healer and himself back to the floating barge.

Which is just then passing through the forcefield hedging out dangerous beasties from the floating tomb. Wyvern gets zapped and flies off shrieking, Warforged party member gets zapped again by giant magic, and the psicrystal with the mind of their NPC telepath buddy in it gets quietly turned to ash. Yeah, that's why the archeologist wasn't commenting on the beautifully preserved giant architecture.

I kept forgetting to have the archeologist-psicrystal dude weigh in. Even when he should be speaking up, he just slips my mind. Problem solved with a fair and square save and 3d6 electricity to the face. Leading facet. Whatever. 

Yes, you can use his dusty remains as a magic component.

The flying tomb fort

Awesome. Source.
Lifted from the awesome Trilemma Adventures, upscaled to fit the size of the previous giant owners. The fortress / tomb is a huge floating d8 with a vertical cylinder drilled down the centre, connecting the three floors. The flying barge docks at the bottom, but the levitation elevators for the cylinder burnt out long ago. It's climbing time for the ranger, rope-wrangling for the NPCs, and then we have to pause and look up how much a sentient golem actually weighs when the wizard can't be arsed to spend his Fly spell on a 30 foot ascent so the ranger needs to haul his ass up. 400 bloody pounds of deadlifting later, the team are on the bottom floor.

Bottom floor: illusion/tapestries of the awesome Giant Wizard Radamenus, who kicked mucho ass 40k years ago, and prepped this tomb/fort for when she would eventually kick the bucket. The bound Djinn and caretaker Ak checks that at least one party member has a honking big gold amulet that identifies them as a bona fide student, informs them that their fellow students are upstairs in the map room, and introduces them to an automatic healing altar powered by radioactive white pearls. Uberfast miniature Drow zoom around the place and clean up scattered pearls so that the party can safely investigate. The altar has a basic 'heal injuries' setting, replacing wounds with pearly white flesh, and more advanced biomantic options.

An exploratory surgery theater next door holds all kinds of sicko scalpels, and one table near the window slit has been cleared to grow funky ashen lotus which pick you right up. Party does not immediately partake of the stuff. Wusses.

Can't wait to inflict my mutations chart on 'em. Found here.
Players immediately decide this is like a real life version of the "customize my character" sliders in e.g. Skyrim and describe how they're going to fuck up their bodies later. I cannot wait.

Seriously happy with finding Trilemma Adventures. These adventure sites consist of a beautiful map and suggestions for locals and contents, which gets my creative juices flowing faster than equally beautiful Dyson's maps. Easier to modify than to start with a blank sheet, I guess.

I've reworked this site a bit to fit into my campaign, added a bound Djinn caretaker that really wants to be set free, foot-high Drow/quickling servants that race around the tomb and repair stuff. Also added a little drug lab on the lower floor, added mutate-the-fuck-out-of-me buttons on the healing altar, and looked up the Pathfinder radiation rules to flesh out the magic white pearls that power the entire site. Finally, some treasure and surprises on the middle and top floor, which haven't been properly explored yet.

Central floor: session is dragging on, I want to end on a bit of excitement, and luckily the noisy climb is enough to finally bring the two remaining giant kids investigating. A fight follows in which they are too angry to properly use all their Oni powers, NPCs go down with a hit of their clubs, and grappling moves almost manage to dump a player character down the tomb's central cylinder and then further down 500 meters to the lake surface. But then the wizard lays down serious damage via summoned elementals and the tide turns.

Ak the Djinn. Stuck in a tomb for
40.000 years and fed up with giant
teenagers hanging around on his lawn.
Source

All-out combat turns into a rout for the two giants, who try to levitate or fly down to the healing altar. It turns out being nice to bound caretakers is a smart thing, as Ak the Djinn conjures up an illusory wall of flames cutting off their entry to the healing room. Arrows and air elementals make short work of the giants' remaining hit points.

A last bit of exploration on the mid level shows the players a huge map room, with floor-to-ceiling illusions of the continent, crossed by ley lines and with 'site of interest' at the intersection.

"Go here for your next adventure." I'm a hack.