Sunday 12 April 2020

Belswick 17: online edition

Country's mostly locked down, so we moved our Belswick campaign online. Session 17 took place over two solo sessions, a bunch of emails and a group session via skype (my first ever!). Below is a session report, and I'll write a quick post about I'm moving the game online while trying to keep a tabletop feel later this week.

update: added Ulrike's Vision Brew shop at bottom of the post


Lomin Mor's player: "Back in the dress at last! And nobody recognized me...and I'm getting married! 😁 Also some nice fighting, long live uncanny dodge. And it was just cool for all of us to play again. RPG via skype is different, but fun 👍"

Tilly's player: That moment where you ask "can I swing onto the manticore's back" and the DM goes "you can certainly try" and you make that roll...shite, shite, shite! 😂 Great mix of world building, building relations with PCs and NPCs, setup and even some combat"


Our stalwart heroes fought off a bunch of devils who had enslaved the One True Hydra and sent it to steal the King's Spear together with the royal shieldmaiden. NATURALLY this fight involved the druid hugging and freeing the firespewing dragon, losing his left arm in the process.

Meanwhile the party cleric banished the devil Count Naberius (reskinned Hobgoblin Warlord with dominate powers), took his skull and magic whip as souvenirs, then turned around and made a deal with the Count's servant spined devils to serve him for a year and a day.

These guys are barely level 5, by the way. You don't have to have tons of hit points or special powers to have epic adventures. Actually, the fact that the characters are still fragile only adds to the excitement when they take on these grandiose challenges.

Home base: Crossroads in the east of the barony. Big festival and pit fight: Walden town in the west - about 20 miles distant.


  • Tilbørd "Tilly" Miven Björnsson, human bard and knowledge priest of the Authority. Survivability of a wet paper towel and arguably the most dangerous of the entire party. Fervent maker of deals with warlock spirits, lich-priests, devils, ghouls, faeries and more
  • Mike, human druid with mild psychic powers after a nightmarish cult sacrificed his entire village to raise their star god
  • Shams, dwarf fighter/arcane knight from the Principality of Stone, opening a trade route with Belswick now that there's war brewing with the southern kingdom Arrayne
  • Mr. Lomin Mor / Lady Olga, Elf from Arrayne who has been impersonating the (deceased) Lady Olga of the fief one over
  • Guy, human diviner wizard with mild psychic powers after a nightmare-filled youth as heir to a lord in Arrayne
  • Aju, sharkling barbarian: formerly a shark from an underwater kingdom, now under a fading spell that turned him into a person for about a year  (real life got in the way and Aju's player had to bow out of the group for the time being. I'll arrange a proper send-off for Aju.) 
Remote play rig for this game: one laptop for my notes and my own skype connection, and a separate laptop with a webcam on a tripod to be a battlecam and to share images. Ran the entire thing over skype with physical dice. Might consider moving to Roll20 or somesuch if we end up remote gaming more often, but for now this worked just fine.


We're time-skipping through the entire winter, to keep the in game and table calendars sort of synced. Lots of downtime + two solo sessions means that there's quite some secret goings-on. Select to read if you want. I'll write up the group session first, solo dealings after that.

Group session:
  •  The big event of the season will be the midwinter Candle Night celebration, with a tournament and airing of griefs for the nobility, a big Candle Fair for the barony, and the dark rural Devil's Dance with a shady market and illegal (possibly heretical) fighting ring.
  • The group heads to Walden town and lose themselves in the fair. Lomin(Olga) and Tilly talk to the wizard Hildebrand, purveyor or magical goods and owner of Hildebrand's Arcana. The wizard has many items for sale, like scrolls, wands and other tools. (List at the bottom of the post).
  • The bard Denmir is very curious to hear about the group's exploits. Tilly leaks some information from a letter between a nun and her superior in the secret-keeping Order of the Moth, but keeps the truly juicy bits to himself. He does confide that his friends and himself were behind solving the riddle of the cursed water in Corsewall.
  • Shams takes in the sights, wandering the fair and looking at contests of strength and archery, sampling the many foods (much more diverse than those found underground!). She hears Lomin's voice and turns, but only sees the Lady Olga. The lady is not as spry as she used to be, but her frame still shows her old warrior strength. (Lucky check to hear a shade of Lomin's familiar voice, but then the insight check to pierce Lomin's disguise failed!) 
  • Lomin travels as Lady Olga and meets with her neighbour Lord Kerjules to discuss a political marriage: both know that Olga is old and frail, without heir or family to take over. What's more, there's a contestant of her rule from her late husband's side of the family: Sir Drake Selbern intends to challenge for fief Culfield during the Candle tourney. The pair decide to try and head off this challenge by each gifting 1000 gp to Baron Walden to allow them to marry. Fief Culfield will then fall to Kerjules should Olga pass away. That is, if Baron Walden accepts this plan!
I had a pit fight planned, but with two players dropping out, we decided to postpone that to next session. Ran a mini combat at the end of the session which was great fun.

  • Meeting up, Tilly, Shams and Lomin decide to visit Devil's Dance in the woods outside Walden town. Between the trees is a dimly lit fair with a potion brewer and fortune teller, a chuckling and whistling ravenling tattooist, and of course the barkers for the Devil's Ring gladiator fight! I stole the idea of a fighting pit from Critical Role. Normally I'm quite conservative with encountering 'weird' beasties like oozes, undead and mythical beasts, but in a dedicated monster fight, anything goes.
  • The real three round, 2000 gp prize fight against various creatures from the dark ("all of their own free will!") will take place one night hence. 25 gp per fighter to join the ring: the group discusses and decides to join! 
    • We decide that we'd like to run this fight with more players present than the current three. Shams does send her imp familiar Ricky into the Devil's caves where the opponents to the fight are housed. Ricky returns, having seen a giant two-headed crocodile, a raging armor-plated bulette, three giant creepy caterpillars and an empty armor with hellish red light coming from its visor. And that's just the possible opponents round one! Deeper in the caves, Ricky spotted a chimera with dragon, goat and lion's head. 

  • Tonight, there's a warm-up with all the contestants:
    • the brash Hateful Hammers have a rough time fighting a minotaur. Their dragonling fihgter is hurt badly, but they manage to take down the warrior. A cowled cleric from the Devil's Ring heals the minotaur and sends it back into the holding caves.
    • the slick Autumn Shadows decide to bide their time and do not enter this round
    • the proud eagleling noble Tyaak and his Grey Whispers manage to outwit a minor basilisk. Again, the beast is healed by the two cowled healers of the Devil's Ring.
    • my players have to pick a name for their group! They go back and forth - the Crossroads Killers, the Frosty Five, the Crossroads Chosen - finally they settle on the Winter Children. Their opponent is an enraged manticore! The beast flies over the frontlining Shams the Dwarf to shoot iron tail spikes at Lomin. Lomin's arrows hit home, Mike fails to hurt the beast's wing, Shams sends fiery blasts into the sky, and Tilly manages to jump on the thing's back as it rakes him with its claws. The Manticore plans to take the priest high into the sky, but Tilly is faster and burns the life out of the beast with an overclocked Inflict Wounds. The spell is so much more than the manticore could take that it plummets out of the sky, lifeless; not a usual outcome with two dedicated healers present, but also not unheard of.
Crowd ready for blood

Side events:
  • I harrass the group with costs of upkeep and lodging: 24 gp for four months of living poorly, or 120 gp for a modest lifestyle. The group decides to liquidate the few art pieces they found on their adventures to pay for winter lodgings. (Mike has bought his own terrain as an animal sanctuary. His tenants on their cottage farms that provide decent shelter and food, so Mike pays nothing!)
  • The first omens of war make themselves known. Lomin and Tilly both encounter prisoner escorts on the road; proud Arraynian warriors with a Griffon tattoo are taken north for interrogation and possibly hostage exchanges. There's a scuffle as a seedy gooseling sergeant and rabbitling corporal try to fill their roster by drafting the village smith Lambert, but both Shams and Tilly offer a minor bribe and convince the pair that the smith is better off crafting tools and weapons.
  • Lomin gets taken aside by his elder brother, bishop Urael, who wants to inspect the holy sword Lomin found in the tomb of Umtak Ktharl. Urael informs Lomin that the Order of Saint Kurelda would be very interested in the blade. Lomin wants to keep the find a secret for now. Urael replies that once the Authority puts such a relic into play, it is hard to keep hidden.
    • Lomin contacts his old guild master of the Violet Cloud thieves, the owlling Aran Linvail. The pair meet up in the Gilded Goose in Badlesmere and talk of old times.
    • Aran can arrange for a pommel gem that hides Lomin's conspicuous sword with an illusion. In return, he wants 500 gp and Lomin's promise to take on a few tasks for him; nothing wildly illegal, but there is a safe house that has fallen silent and could bear checking out. Lomin will ask his friends to join in for 250 gp.
  • Shams gets an audience with Baron Radnor, which is just one of the titles of Young King Cedric the Meek of Pembroke. They sketch the outlines of a trade agreement: Pembroke agreed to stop trade with the Dwarves 30 years ago to win peace with Arrayne. With the king's last peace negotiation failed, the Dwarves stand ready to trade again. A trade house will be set up.
  • Shams receives a speaking stone from her partner Dan deLion, sage and future master of the Dwarf trade house. The stone allows her to talk for 2 minutes with its partner stone, owned by Shams' mentor and aunt Tole in the Marble Library. Tole is proud of Shams for escorting (most of) the trade delegation to Pembroke, and sends her mighty warhammer as a gift. Both Dwarves can summon the thing to their hands from any distance, and they can even put small items (as big as a thumb) in the handle for transport.
One one one sessions:

Tilly the priest: 
  • donates 50 gp to Father Eustace of the local church
  • goes on a pilgrimage to get rid of the necrotic energy still coursing through his body. Death & Dismemberment table + nearly killed by necrotic energy = much win. Tilly actually seeks out the Radiant Maiden, his warlock patron who has been curing an outbreak of plague in the halfling settlement of Hay. The Maiden is sad that Tilly didn't manage to "free" (kill) the Hydra, but cures him of his affliction anyway. She truly cannot abide suffering. But if a chance presents itself to end the Hydra, rumored to be an elemental keystone to the Authority's power, she does expect Tilly to take it...
  • talks with Sir Kerjules (of Tilly's fief Culfield) and writes to Lady Liselle (newly-wed daughter in law to the local Baron) about setting up The Open Book Orphanage, a cloister school / orphanage where Tilly can teach kids to read and write and send them out to learn from local craftsmen. Offer applauded and for a mere 500 gp, building of the 50 5ft^2 structure can begin. Revenue after all upkeep, wages and taxes is a mere 5 sp a month, unless Tilly adds another 500 gp to get himself appointed as abbot, in which case he can rake in 100 gp a month.
    Liselle added that she likes the idea of someone she can trust close to the neighbouring fief Witmarrow (lord Vennax was involved in a kidnap attempt against her).
  • gathers information on the knight who summoned Count Naberius, Dread Sir Ulric and Sir Vennax by sending his two spined devils flying into the region
  • talks to Orbat the inn keep and arranges a secret site to drop his more heretical property; Tilly has let the widow Tillinghast's unused shack in the woods south-west of town
  • chats with Jacques Cousteau the ghoul and travels with him through the ghoul tunnels to the monthly ghoul market, where he sees many marvels and asks about turning Naberius' skull and horns into magical items.
    Both Vespero the Antiquarian (an ancient man wearing a plague doctor outfit) and the morbidly pale and obese demon thing called the Skinsmith can arrange for the crafting. The Skinsmith also offers the option of bringing the deceased back to life - in return for getting to add a modification to their body of his own choice.

Mike the druid:

  • performs a rite to regain his left arm by contacting the three winter fae Sorya, Kata and Illyria. At midnight on the new moon, he calls their names thrice and sits in his cabin as the temperature drops far, far below freezing. The sisters agree to build an arm out of freshly wept snow, ice shards from a frozen brook and fresh blood - if Mike agrees to pay them.
    • Daugher Illyria wants Mike's love: he is now cursed and cannot love or be loved.
    • Mother Kata wants his warmth for the winter: keeping warm will twice as much food and wood for the fire. 
    • Grandmother Sorya wants Mike to perform a service: he is to steal the food stores of a local lord and distribute the food to the common people. Sorya loans Mike a small burlap sack which is bigger on the inside to transport the food.
    • Payments agreed and made, the three winter fae weep snow for muscles, gather ice shards for bones and draw Mike's blood to bring the new arm to life. After the grueling ordeal, the druid has a left arm again!
  • rumors about Mike regaining his arm turn ugly. People no longer love the folk hero, even if they admire his prowess. One-legged Father Eustace makes the trek to Mike's animal sanctuary to see what's what. The former soldier becomes convinced that Mike made a deal with some eldritch power, but also sees the druid's good heart. Eustace lets Mike know that there will always be shelter in the church, and informs his congregation that Mike was blessed with a healing miracle.
  • Arm restored, Mike goes to Annabelle the potion maker and asks her to brew a potion that can transport something huge and valuable out of a room too small to pass. His goal is to free the basilisk of the Tomb of the Serpent Kings, but the 1000 gp dimension door potion is too rich for him; he'll settle for Reduction potions. Annabelle will have to gather ingredients first, she says.
    • Thinking to scout ahead, Mike makes it to the Tomb, only to find that a pack of bandits has moved in! They've even cleared the blockage that the party made in the tomb's back entrance. Then Annabelle shows op with a pig in tow, passes some coin to the bandits and heads inside to come out an hour later with two potions in her satchel. Mike rushes back to town to buy them off of her.
    • Mike returns to the tomb, shivering in the mildly cold air because of his deal with the winter sisters. He evades the bandits, takes the tomb's main entrance and sees the hammer trap restored. Trying to disarm it, he's ambushed by a wailing, glooping black ooze and an enraged snakeman skeleton with a vicious battleaxe. Summoning mist, he manages to evade the pair and sneaks in further to the basilisk room. 
    • The titanic beast recognizes Mike's smell from earlier contact and allows him to feed it a reduction potion. Reduced from elephant to dog size, it can easily slip its enormous adamantine chain and collar. Mike carries the tiny earth dragon outside and helps it evade the bandits by running off in Elk form.
    • Returning to its regular shape, The One True Basilisk finds itself in the open for the first time since a thousand years. It plays with the nearby trees, then strains and focuses - and on the horizon, a single tree on a hilltop turns to stone. Rumbling in elemental, the Basilisk tells Mike it will make its way to the high mountains. It will remember the smell of this tiny thing that set it free.


Hildebrand's Arcana
Master Hildebrand of Walden can craft magic items up to Rare level.

  • spell scrolls of abjuration, divination and transmutation: 50 gp x spell level
  • Xanathar's Guide: boots of false tracks, cloak of billowing, dread helm, horn of silent alarm, rope of mending: 100 gp
  • shield +1: 350 gp
  • weapon +1: 500 gp
  • ring of swimming or ring of jumping: 400 gp
  • wand of detect magic, secrets or magic missiles: 500 gp
  • boots of the winterlands: 375 gp
  • circlet of blasting: 600 gp
  • armor +1: armor cost + 500 gp
  • weapon +1: weapon cost +750 gp
  • wand of binding: 750 gp

Ulrike's Vision Brew
  • 5 sp for a fortunetelling by Ulrike
  • 50 gp: potions of comprehension, false life, hate, healing 2d4+2, love
  • 100 gp: energy resistance, giant size, glibness, healing 4d4+4, levitation, mirror image, shrink, silver a weapon or 10 pieces of ammunition, water breathing
  • 500 gp: deep sleep, ethereality, flight, haste, transformation: rat

The Ghoul Market
Prospero the Antiquarian can obtain anything and everything ancient and magical - for a price.
The Skinsmith is a master of taking bodies or body parts and turning them useful and strange.
The other vendors change from market to market.
If you're strapped for cash, you can exchange 1 ability point for 250 gp at the Ghoul market.

Prospero and the Skinsmith had ideas on how to alter Naberius' remains:

From Naberius' skull:
  • Goggles of Night 400 gp, OR
  • Helm of Telepathy 500 gp

From Naberius' horns: (two horns, need one horn per item:)
  • carve into Pipes of Haunting 350 gp
  • grind into Dust of Choking and Sneezing, 2 doses for 2x100 gp
  • ignite into Eversmoking Bottle 250 gp
  • reinforce into Horn of Avernus (reskinned silver Horn of Valhalla - 2d4+2 berserkers) 1200 gp

Party's magic items
See also

From last session:
  • Slavetaker, 700 gp: the commanding whip of the devil Count Naberius (Tilly)
  • Waveheart, 700 gp: necklace that allows water breathing, fast swimming and summoning a wall of water (Shams)

  • bronze scrying bowl that shows a target's deepest fear (Guy)
  • cloak of fire resistance (Mike)
  • Ebon Codex, book that opens route to extradimensional library (Tilly)
  • Hand of the Oathbreaker Backstabber - advanced Hand of Glory (Tilly)
  • Torch of Saint Kurelda, +2 sun sword (Lomin)
  • throwing dagger of returning (Aju)
  • Spellbook with 6 wizard spells (Guy)
  • The Injector Pike with 3 doses of acid (???)
  • 2x potion of stone to flesh (???)
  • potion of mellowjuice: deep sleep / hallucinations (???)
  • boots of elvenkind (Lomin)
  • stone of good luck (Tilly)
  • potion of flight, 1hr (???)
  • scroll of rope trick (???)
  • red bottle imp, rumor spreader (Tilly)
  • longbow +1 (Lomin)
  • twin daggers: parrying dagger, dagger of sneak attacks (Lomin)