Ambushed! – Eye of the Wyvern Session 2

GMing can be hard, and stressful, at times. This week’s session was one of those times. Having left the adventure on a cliffhanger, everyone was riding high and looking to get into a fight with some wyvernlings in the barn at “Bobbie’s” farm.

The encounter itself was fairly easy. There were four wyvernlings in the barn. Two were at the end of the barn attacking the cows, who were mooing noisily to attract the heroes. The other two where hidden in the hayloft that surrounded the walls of the barn, waiting by the doors to ambush any heroes that entered.

The Distressing Doors

Naturally, the heroes wanted to open the doors, and after rolling initiative, Sian went first with Peregrine. Because of the ambush, I wanted to make sure that I knew where Peregrine was when the doors were opened. Unfortunately, Sian wasn’t very clear on her intentions, and got frustrated as she tried to explain to me what she wanted to do. Ouro got frustrated as well, and they were both demanding me to just “open the damn door.” As things got heated, said no and downed tools, taking ten minutes out to cool off.

Turns out that what Sian wanted Peregrine to do was to open the double doors, stepping backwards so that the door was between Peregrine and the barn. This provided cover to Peregrine, and allowed the others to see into, and possibly enter, the barn. However, this wasn’t what she was saying to me, and I was unable to see how Peregrine was trying to open the door AND see inside the barn himself.

Resuming Normal Service

Anyways, after cooling off, and a bit more explaining from Sian to clarify what she wanted Peregrine to do, we got back into the encounter. The heroes cautiously approached the barn, standing in the doorway and taking the wyvernlings by the cows with ranged weapons.

The wyvernlings displayed their rudimentary cunning – instead of mindlessly charging the heroes in the doorway, the two wyvernlings by the cows used the pillars supporting the hayloft as cover to approach the party, preventing ranged attacks from the doorway. Meanwhile, the two wyvernlings up in the hayloft held still, and waited to a more opportune time to spring their trap.

The Wyvernlings Strike

The heroes slowly entered the barn, and also used cover from pillars supporting the hayloft to try and attack the wyvernlings from range. However, in doing this, they had to split up and move away from the doorway and under the hayloft. It was only after Sunblayze and Peregrine had moved under the hayloft that Darkblade managed to spot the wyverns up above, moments before they sprung their ambush.

Darkblade shouted a warning and attacked one of the wyverns in the hayloft with his longbow. This warning was enough to give Peregrine time to turn around before the wyvernlings sprung their trap and left down behind him. This effectively split the party, and melee was joined.

The combat was swift and brutal from there, and soon all four wyvernlings had been dispatched by sword and bow. Somehow, the heroes had managed to make it through relatively unscathed.

The Heroes Victorious

With the excitement over, the farmers shouted their approval and held an impromptu celebration at “Bobbie’s” farm, where the party was invited to stay the night. Old John told the party to prepare, as they would be heading into the mountains and exploring beyond the falls, to find out where the creatures were coming from. In addition, Murri suggested that the party take the supplies he had brought to Wyvern Falls, giving them two potions of healing and three elixirs of health. He then got out his sock puppet theatre and proceeded to tell the heroic tale of Murri the Mighty Wyvern Slayer, who had taught the heroes all they needed to know in order to defeat the “beasties in the barn.”

Yet Another Cliffhanger

The following day, the party set off, climbing the falls and following the river beyond. It was hard going, and the party didn’t make much headway into the mountains, but as evening approached and the sun set, the party heard a strange gutteral chanting ahead.

Here is where the session ended, providing yet another cliffhanger to resolve. Could this be the final battle –  the cause of the wyvernling attack?

Session Debriefing

I would like to note that after the session, Ouro spoke to me about the issues within the session. He said that he thought that I was being a jerk, and that I was making a joke by not opening the door. I explained my reasoning, and stated that I do not appreciate being called a jerk. We both put it down to miscommunication in the end, but Ouro’s feedback was useful in a way.

Turns out that Ouro had been expecting an ambush, and he said that my concerns about party placement opening the door due to the wyvernling ambush was unfounded. He said that I should have just kept the game going, and let any misplacement happen. I noted that my concern is largely down to my reputation as a “murder GM” – one that is entirely unwarranted in most cases, especially since none of the PCs have actually died yet.

In Reflection

Personally, it’s not nice to have a session breakdown like this one did, but I am glad that I was able to take a break and cool off, before returning. I am not sure that I would have returned, if Sian hadn’t asked me to. I was tempted to end the session and restart the following week. It’s not often that the pressure of being a GM gets to me, to the point that I want to end the session, but I got to that point this week.

Still, looking back at it, having been able to cool off, and afterwards, putting it down to miscommunication, what else should I expect from three autistic gamers? But that’s what makes the game fun, and we will all get better with time. Plus, there were no hard feelings following the session. That’s one thing I will praise our group for – we are all able to speak openly about how we feel, even when we annoy each other or get frustrated, without bearing any grudges. That, I think, is what makes our group strong in the end.

Into the Wilderness – Eye of the Wyvern: Session 1

After a week hiatus, because The Ruined Tower and Wrath of the Minotaur were so draining, we commenced with the second of the Dungeons and Dragons Fast-Play adventures: Eye of the Wyvern.

As a wilderness adventure, Eye of the Wyvern has a different pace than the Ruined Tower or Wrath of the Minotaur, since the adventure consists of discrete events in the wilderness, rather than rooms in a dungeon. That means a lot of maps detailing various encounter areas, rather than a single dungeon map to explore.

Because of the fact that there are more maps, many of which are generic wilderness maps, wilderness adventures are slightly more work to prepare for Roll 20, as you need to provide battle maps even for generic areas like campsites.

However, they are also less work, because the pace of the adventure dictates that there will be fewer, but tougher, encounters that are spaced out by time, rather than whether or not the PCs enter a room or not. As such, the GM has much more control over how and when the encounters occur, and is able to more fully dictate the pacing of the adventure.

It was great to finally be able to use the map of The Vale as an actual map that tokens were moved on, rather than just a reference of where adventures were taking place. This made making the map of The Vale seem much more useful than just a vanity project for myself as GM.

Turning Back Time

The party of Elanna, Michifer, Thaddeus, and Thordar went to explore the Tomb of Alaxus, the Minotaur Mage, having set off in the morning, starting a three day trek through the mountains. As we saw in their adventures, they would spend two days in the Tomb, before making the three day trek back with all their loot after defeating the Minotaur mage. This means that party would be away for a total of eight days.

So, with that, we returned to the party of Darkblade, Peregrine, Niles, and Sunblayze, that had elected to remain behind in case of trouble, taking time back to when the other party had left. They didn’t have to wait long for an adventure of their own – the following day the Patriarch called for them to attend his office at noon.

The remaining party members dutifully attended, and it turns out that their help was needed once more. Three merchants had returned to Haven from their regular trip to Wyvern Falls, a small farming outpost in the north of the Vale, bringing with them a request for aid from the farmers of the area. The merchants told of how the farmers were being attacked by beasts from the wilderness, and continued attacks put the farmers, their families, and their livestock in danger.

The Patriarch nodded sagely, and gave the heroes their orders. They were to prepare to leave Haven the following morning and head to Wyvern Falls, in order to help the farmers end the menace, and kill whatever beasts were attacking them. Wyvern Falls was three days journey away, along a well known trail through the Vale.

The party were then dismissed, as they seemed not in the mood to ask any questions, instead more focused on their preparations. My players seemed to be getting more used to some of the threats they would face, and thus opted to purchase some additional weapons and armour for their characters. Sian, in particular, decided that Sunblayze the Spellsword was particularly fragile, and thus elected to get her a shortbow and some ring mail for the adventure ahead.

The Journey Begins

Preparations done, the action moved to the following day, where the party were met by the Patriarch just before they departed Haven. The Patriarch wished them luck, and handed them a map of the Vale and a letter of introduction, before seeing them off on the journey to Wyvern Falls.

The fun part of any wilderness adventure has to be camping, as the party starts to establish an order for how they will rest overnight. With this, I bought out a generic campsite battle map I had found. I knew their were to be no encounters in the night, but I wanted my players to think that there might be, so I got them to decide upon guard schedules. Once they were done, I told them that there were no encounters and we returned to the map of the Vale.

During the next day, the party travelled and encountered Murri, a travelling halfling merchant who was also heading to Wyvern Falls. Murri told the party that the farmers had been attacked by poisonous creatures, which Ouro asserted were Wyverns. As such, the farmers had clubbed together to give Murri the funds to purchase some potions of healing and elixirs of health in order to help the farmers deal with the menace. Murri offered to sell these to the party, but the party declined. So, instead, Murri offered to travel with the party to Wyvern Falls.

Attack in the Night

It was getting dark just after their encounter with Murri, so the party and their halfling travelling companion opted to share the campsite that was so well known on the route. The party set their standard guard schedule, and Murri promptly went to sleep, snoring loudly.

That night, there was to be an encounter. Three creatures approached the camp around midnight, just as Darkblade was handing over to Niles and preparing to sleep. Darkblade had just removed his armour when they both heard the approach. Within moments, the three creatures emerged from the bushes and were upon the camp. Combat had started.

Niles bravely rushed to defend the camp. Darkblade emerged, unarmoured, to face the creatures as well, but not before waking Peregrine up with a swift kick to the head. Peregrine rose, and woke Sunblayze up with a swift kick to the head, before beginning to don his armour. Peregrine wore platemail, and thus it would take two turns for the paladin to be ready to fight. Sunblayze likewise donned her armour, but the much lighter ring mail would only take a round to don.

Darkblade and Niles bravely fought the beasts, and soon Sunblayze was ready to lend a hand with her shortbow. The dispatched one on the creatures, but were hard pressed against the other two. Peregrine emerged to turn the tables against the beasts, but not before one of them had managed to land Niles a grievous blow, taking him down and out of the fight.

Luckily, Peregrine was able to use his Lay on Hands ability to save Niles from certain death, and they soon got the unlucky halfling patched up and back on his feet. A nights rest, and further healing from Peregrine saw Niles soon recover some of his fighting strength.

In the morning, Murri was aghast that he had slept through the night’s excitement, and offered the party his healing items at a reduced rate, telling them that the farmers would understand. However, the party declined, and together the party and the travelling halfling merchant finished their journey and reached Wyvern Falls.

Arriving at Wyvern Falls

Whatever the party were expecting at Wyvern Falls, this wasn’t it, as the outpost was little more than a permanent wooden structure where the local farmers could meet up. They were greeted by a young boy called Bobbie, who was posted to await their arrival whilst the adults continued about their work.

Bobbie was mightily impressed with the exploits of these heroes, and Murri was all too eager to explain how he had found these heroes and they had already faced off against some of the beasts when they camped the night before. Wowed, Bobbie immediately raced off to inform his parents that the heroes had arrived, and that a meeting was to be called in Wyvern Falls that evening.

Within hours, farmers started arriving from across the region to attend the meeting at Wyvern Falls. One farmer is identified as Old John, the informal leader of the farmers. Old John calls the meeting to order, informing the attendees that the party is there from Haven to help deal with the creatures attacking their farms.

During the meeting, Old John motions for a steely-eyed old woman called Ferga to speak to the party. Ferga relates how she spotted these beasts coming from the falls nearby that the outpost of Wyvern Falls is named after. That is where the creatures’ lair will be.

Just then Bobbie returns with grave news. The creatures are attacking his farm! Old John looks at the party and states that this is where they start proving their worth as heroes. This seemed like a suitable cliffhanger upon which to end the session…

The Minotaur Mage – Wrath of the Minotaur Session 6

Finally, after six sessions, the party of Elanna, Thaddeus, Michifer, and Thordar successfully defeated Alaxus, the Minotaur Mage, and returned to Haven. Here’s how it went down…

The party finished their rest in the lair of the Kobold Lord, having recovered a strange silver key that looked identical to the silver key around the neck of Alaxus the Minotaur Mage shown in the various painted murals the party had discovered thus far.

They had two ways to go, so the party headed north. They suspected a certain symmetry to the dungeon, and were correct when they entered a room beyond the now seemingly inevitable “Corridor of the Wooden Door”, as the standardised 10-foot wide, 30-foot long corridors were now being called.

The room was empty besides several piles of leaves an debris. The party surmised that this must have come from outside, so this must be their means of escaping the dungeon. They took the decision to bravely close the door and deal with this room later – they had a Minotaur Mage to hunt!

This left one way to progress, and whilst the corridor was the same as the others, the door at the end wasn’t. Instead of a wooden door, there stood two slabs of solid obsidian. Unsurprisingly, they were locked, but surprisingly, once opened with the silver key, the heavy stone slabs were easy to move on hinges that seemed to withstood the time that the rest of the dungeon hadn’t.

Beyond, the final battle seemed to await – four minotaur zombies blocked a dias in the middle of the room. As the party entered, the the lid of the stone sarcophagus on the dais slid aside, and a minotaur in green robes stepped out. Alaxus was alive, and had been transformed in to a one of the minotaurs he was renowned for.

With a final warning from Alaxus, battle was joined. Elanna took the lead and charged one of the minotaur zombies, cleaving it in twain with a single blow. Turns out that they weren’t as tough as they looked.

Alaxus, on the ohter hand, was a different story, and after the minotaur mage cast shield on himself, rendering him immune to magic missiles and harder to hit in ranged combat, Thaddeus decided to show what he was capable of. With a bit of maneuvering, Thaddeus unleashed the lightning bolt from his scroll, directly at Alaxus. The lightning bolt caused grievous damage to the minotaur mage, and frying one of the minotaur zombies in the process.

Thordar and Michifer took care of the remaining minotaur zombies, as Alaxus used his own enlarge spell to increase his already impressive size. Elanna didn’t hesitate, and charged the mage, harrassing him and his spellcasting. This proved deadly effective, and Elanna was able to cut down the mage where he stood as he attempted to unleash another spell.

The combat was quick and brutal, and so was the looting. Behind the dias, piles of treasure amassed by Alaxus sat in unlocked wooden chests. There were coins and gems a plenty, enough to completely fill the few sacks the party had brought with them. But not all the treasure was monetary, because there were also stacks of tomes filled with valuable lore, which the party knew the Patriarch would appreciate.

After the battle, the party left the room, locking the obsidian doors behind them. This would preserve the remaining tomes within, and they headed back to what they suspected was the way out. The piles of leaves were quickly torched with flaming oil once it was discovered that they were infested with angry giant centipedes, but this was only a minor delay, as the party made their journey back to Haven.

The patriarch was happy to meet them, learn of their adventures, and rewarded them for their treasures. He offered the party his services for identifying the items they found, at his usual rate, but with over 10,000 gold brought back from the Tomb of Alaxus, the party had no qualms in paying this.

As the session ended, all that was heard heard was a subtle coughing from the Patriarch, muttering something about a customary 10 percent tithe to the church. After all, they could afford it now. Plus, the Patriarch had provided the party with extra potions of healing for returning the remains of the fallen warrior from the Church of the Holy Defender, and they aren’t cheap to make, you know…

Pop Goes the Weasel – Wrath of the Minotaur Session 5

The fun and games continued this session, as the party dived right in and continued to explore Alaxus’ Tomb. Their first surprise was a real doozie – the corridor leading further into the tomb caved in behind them. Once the dust had settled, several feet of rock had settled in their path to freedom. Not that this bothered the party much, as there surely had to be another way out. Not even I, as a notorious “Murder GM” would be THAT mean…

So, with little choice, the party pressed on, and they discovered the fallen body of a warrior from the Church of the Holy Defender – at least, that’s what was hinted at by the plate armour and the sunburst design on the shield nearby. No weapon was to be found though.

Elanna decided to don the plate armour, turning her Armour Class into a formidable 21. That means that for the majority of the opponents in the dungeon, I was looking at natural 20s to hit. Michifer opted to take the shield, boosting the cleric’s AC to 21 as well, simply because Thordar wanted to keep using his Greataxe in combat.

Body looted, the party picked a door – south was as good a direction as any. Alas, this led straight to the encounter with the kobold leader. This was supposed to be a tough fight, as the kobold leader had gotten hold of the fallen warrior’s magical broadsword. Aside the kobold leader stood eight other kobolds, and the most fearsome of the combatants – two giant weasels. The kobold leader saw the PCs and yelled “Kill them!”

With that, battle was joined. With the highest armour classes, both Elanna and Michifer waded into battle. They stood just inside the doorway. Apparently, they had misheard the kobold leader, because they decided that what he had cried was “Kill me!” They duly obliged, ignoring all the other opponents in the room.

As all the other combatants in the room, including the weasels, required natural 20s to hit, the party were confident that none of the creatures could hit them. Turn after turn, they attacked and failed to hit, “chewing on Elanna’s boot” as Sian began to say, as her armour seemed impenetrable. Michifer was not so lucky, as a weasel scored a nat 20 and found the chink in the armour, dealing enough damage to take Michifer down in one go.

The party was concerned, because with their cleric down, their healing potential was essentially wiped out. They had no other form of healing, and would have to rely on what they could find as they sought a way out of Alaxus’ Tomb.

Luckily for them, the combat was mostly over, and the party mopped up the remaining creatures, including the two weasels, which the party discovered weren’t the one-hit wimps the kobolds were. Michifer was barely holding on, and the party searched the room for their salvation. They found it in the form of a potion of healing that contained TWO doses. Enough to get Michifer back on his feet.

The party decided to rest, despite Ouro’s objections. Ouro was concerned about the party resting after ever encounter, but I assured him that as long it was only after every significant encounter, they would be okay. After all, wasn’t Michifer nearly dying a significant encounter? With this, and it being the end of the session, Ouro agreed to rest, and had Michifer heal Thordar with his cure light wounds spell. Thordar had been at half health since the kobold archers had nearly killed him, so Ouro breathed a sigh of relief – the party was almost fully healed and ready to continue trying to find a way out. Or deal with Alaxus, whom the party clearly decided was a lich…

(Spoiler: I played the encounter by the book, but when Michifer went down, the party saw my benevolent side. The kobold leader had a potion of healing in his treasures. I decided that it would seem kind of pointless for the party to go through the fight, only to have to use their only alternative source of healing to restore Michifer. So, to avoid the sense of crushing despair, I elected to give the potion an additional dose. That way, they could restore Michifer, who had gone down primarily due to bad luck, and still have a dose remaining, which they would no doubt probably end up using in the final combat…)

Lesson Learned? Wrath of the Minotaur – Session 4

Following the pointed lesson with the kobold archers in the last session, we kicked off this session in the middle of combat. The door to the room had been closed, giving the party time to reconsider their options.

Sian favoured running in and engaging the archers with Elanna, whilst using Thaddeus to provide some fire support, with actual fire from flaming oil.

Ouro, however, suggested a somewhat sneakier option: that the party noisily withdraw back to the previous room, as if they were running away, and then hide, so as to try and lure the kobolds out and maybe even trick them into splitting up by trying to encircle them.

Ouro’s plan seemed to be based on tactical knowledge he assumed the kobolds would follow, based on the limited knowledge that they had of the dungeon. Ouro didn’t know that the passage to the west, which they assumed led to the first chamber, was actually blocked off by a cave in – the party hadn’t bothered to check that route before heading south and encountering the gelatinous cube.

Sian once again deferred to Ouro’s somewhat flawed judgement, and so the party fled back to the previous room, put out their light. Elanna took the option to use her potion of healing to restore some of her health, as she felt that she needed it if the plan was to end up failing.

The kobolds fired at the door once again. this time eleven arrows hit the closed door. But then there was some yipping (kobold language that nobody in the party understands), as the kobolds debated among themselves about what to do next. They weren’t going to split up, as Ouro anticipated, as there was nowhere else for them to go – they knew the corridor to the first chamber was blocked by a cave in. But neither did they want to give up their tactical advantage just yet. So, they argued among themselves before sending one of their remaining number to go open the door and check things out.

Alas, several members of their party totally botched their stealth rolls, meaning that the kobold sent to look out the door had spotted them. Unfortunately for the kobolds, by hiding behind the door, the party had almost total cover and thus the kobolds couldn’t get a line of sight to attack them with ranged attacks without entering the corridor and approaching the room.

Thus, this is what the kobolds did, as they all rushed down the corridor to get a better shot at the party. Once they were confined in the tight space of the corridor, Thaddeus took the opportunity to step out from his hiding place and hurl a flask of flaming oil right into the middle of the kobolds. Two were killed outright by the flames, and another two took damage, although they managed not to be set alight. Most importantly though, the fire filled the centre of the corridor, dividing the kobolds in two.

Those at the rear fled back into the room, and readied their bows for any incoming onslaught, unable to fire through the flames, and unwilling to risk death charging through it. For now, they were out of the combat until the fire died out.

Those at the front had little choice but to move forwards and try to fight their way through the party in front of them. Two held the front line, dropping their shortbows for shortswords, whilst the two behind the readied their ranged weapons, willing to fire through their comrades, if neccessary. All four were slaughtered in a few rounds, with Elanna easily cleaving the kobolds up with copious overkill from her greatsword.

The party used the time whilst the fire in the corridor burnt itself out, to loot the bodies of the kobolds they had slain previously in the narrow tunnel, hoping to recover some form of healing, Alas, all they found was some gold coins, and a dead scorpion.

When the flames had died down, the party returned to the room where they first encountered the kobolds. They had three more of the creatures to face off against. Two held their shortbows ready to fire, whilst the third watched the doorway for the party’s approach.

This time, there was no hesitation, as Elanna moved down the corridor and attacked the kobold with a fury that saw him slain with a certain sense of grace and brutality. With the numbers now in their favour, Thordar took the opportunity to charge down the corridor and attack one of the kobold archers, dispatching the creature just as swiftly, with the kobold’s arrows missing the oncoming dwarf. It was all but over the following round, when Elanna moved up and finished the final kobold.

Exhausted, the party recovered and looted the bodies looking for more healing. Unfortunately, there was no healing to be found, as all these kobolds seemed to hold what amounted to 100 gold pieces, and a metal ring on a chain that one kobold at the back wore around his neck. The crude scribbling inside of it added to the sense of mystery it possessed, so the party pocketed it with the rest of their loot.

The party wanted to rest, but this room didin’t seem like a suitably safe place to do so, and their curiousity was peaked. Thordar checked the room, and the doors, and opened the west door first. Ouro had wondered why his plan to split the party hadn’t worked as he had hoped, but upon finding that the corridor was caved in, was satisifed that the kobolds had nowhere else to go. Time for another door, and this time they chose north, sensing a certain amount of symmetry to this tomb.

The way north led to another corridor ending in a wooden door, with the only difference to previous non-collapsed corridors is that someone or something had scrawled a red cross on the door in dried blood.

Wary, the party opened the door and found the room contained four treasure chests. Three were unopened, but the fourth was opened and a big scorch mark surrounded the chest. Thordar examined the chest and noted that whilst it seemed empty, a sliding panel in the lid concealed a small ring. Thordar pocketed it, and moved on to the other chests.

All three of the remaining chests were closed with latches, but unlocked. Somewhat curious, Thordar looked for traps, but Thaddeus stopped the dwarf as he was about to lift the latch, pointing out that their was some sort of sticky residue underneath them all. Thaddeus realised this could be a sort of flammable material, like that of alchemists fire, which could combust explosively when the latch was opened.

Warily, the party stepped back. If the scorch marks on the floor surrounding the open chest was anything to go by, the party would be caught in the blast if any such explosives went off whilst they were next to the chest, but they would be safely out of reach if they were further away. With that Thordar reached for his trusty trap-finding stick, preparing to try and flip the latches from afar.

Unfortunately, the dwarf wasn’t suited to such work, and Elanna took the stick and proceeded to deftly flip each latch open. In quick succession, the material under each of the latches combusted and exploded into a flaming ball before dissipating just as quickly, leaving the contents of each chest intact. Thordar examined all the chests thoroughly, and found that each chest contained 200 gold coins, but were otherwise empty.

With only one door into the room, the party realised that this was an ideal place to rest and recover. Michifer and Thaddeus refreshed their spells, and the party recovered a little health, ready for further adventures on the morrow…