The Favorites of Selune - Gardmore Abbey - Session 2
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 2 October 2013, 9:20 am
In the previous session the Favorites of Selune started exploring Gardmore Abbey. They had ignored the more obvious entrances and gone around the abbey and through the back entrance right in the great temple at the heart of the complex. As we had stopped there right at the end of a fight, this session started with the aftermath of the combat there.

Having slain the harpies and angels that attacked them, the heroes realize that something strange was going on in this place: Angels are supposed to be on the good side, and the harpies acted crazy too and pretended to be priests of Bahamut. Looking through the temple they find the rune of light sign from a card of the Deck of Many Things just fading, which leads them to a hidden compartment in the altar where they find a second card, the Rogue. There is a long discussion on how they think those cards work in combat, and who in consequence should be carrying them. In the end the rogue carries the Rogue card and the wizard takes the Gem card.

They also find the harpies lair, glittering of gold, as the harpies had hammered gold pieces into the cracks of the wall. The heroes don't take the time to remove the gold, but take the Dragonlance they found in the lair. That leads to a spot of meta-gaming where the players conclude that if they find a Dragonlance, there must be a dragon around the corner somewhere. [DM's note: Actually the adventure states "a rare level 9-10 weapon", and using the Compendium app on my iPad I had found that the list of rare weapons of that level was rather short. And then some of those weapons on the list were clearly evil and not likely to be found in a temple of Bahamut. The Dragonlance on the other hand, while technically from a different campaign world, fit perfectly with Bahamut.]

Meanwhile Sir Oakley has started praying in front of the altar of Bahamut, trying to purify the temple from the evil influence. But after a while he concludes that this wasn't working without the three sacred vessels that are missing from the altar. Thus he asks the heroes to find those sacred vessels while they are searching Gardmore Abbey. While Sir Oakley has no exact knowledge about the whereabouts of those sacred vessels, he is a descendant of the founder of the abbey and knows a lot about the general layout. Thus he is able to tell the group that there are two dungeons there: The catacombs under the temple, and the vaults with two entrances in the barracks and in the Hall of Glory.

At this point the curse of the sandbox adventure kicks in: There are too many options. The heroes are right in the central point of Gardmore Abbey. They could go north to spy on the orcs, east through another gate in the upper wall to look at the Feygrove below, south or west to the barracks and Hall of Glory with their vault entrances, or down from the temple into the catacombs, with even more options after taking a first encounter in each direction. Because this isn't the usual linear adventure, there isn't actually a "best option" here, but the order in which they do these things will have consequences, even if not all of those consequences are predictable by the players. After a long discussion the players decide to do a vote, and going down to the catacombs wins.

The first room of the catacombs is empty, except for signs of a recent combat. There are scorch marks from fireballs and magic missiles on the wall. And the undead-detecting mace of the priest detects undead residue on pieces of armor strewn over the floor. Apparently somebody fought a group of undead knights, phantoms in armor, not more than a day or two ago. [DM Note: That scene was difficult to describe well. Under different circumstances it would have been the players who would have fought the phantom knights. But the adventure has certain events that are determined by drawing cards, and by the order in which the players do the encounters, so this was supposed to be a scene where the players find the monsters already killed. Which is easy enough if the monsters are of flesh and blood, but not so easy if the monsters are insubstantial.] The room also has an altar of Bahamut with two eternal flames left and right. Praying to Bahamut makes those flames grow larger, but the group doesn't find out anything more about the function of this. There are two exits from the room, north or east.

So they continue through the door in the north, behind which the priest's mace has detected more undead. Fearing an ambush they pull open the door. This time I remember the Deck of Many Things, and the Rogue card is drawn, producing a glowing symbol of that card on the ground next to the card holder. The rogue of the group wins initiative and steps on the glowing symbol. There he finds out that this enables him to make an attack against will to dominate one creature for one round. So he uses it against one of the four skeletons behind the door. He succeeds, but before it is the turn of the skeletons the wizard throws a fireball into the room and incinerates the dominated skeleton and one other skeleton. It becomes clear that the four skeletons in view are just minions, and the group dispatches them quickly.

Then the harder part of the fight begins. There are four more skeletons, two of them "tanks", and the other two blazing skeletons throwing orbs of fire. The blazing skeletons throw their orbs at the fighter who is the first to enter the room, while the other two skeletons move to block the way. Soon the combat has a front row of the fighter and warlord of the group on one side, and the two tanking skeletons on the other, with the blazing skeletons a bit behind as artillery. So the rogue, who doesn't have room to act otherwise, decides to jump over the skeletons. With a good roll he even makes it right to the blazing skeletons. But then the priest uses his turn undead power and pushes the warrior skeletons back, trapping the rogue in a skeleton sandwich. That could have gone badly wrong, but fortunately the rogue has a better armor class than even the fighter, and there are two healers behind to keep him alive. And then the priest manages to disperse the skeletons with a second turn undead. A few rounds later the skeletons are down. Still, the fight was far from ideal, with a distinctive lack of coordination between the players and their powers getting in the way of each other.

Again there are two door, and the southern one appears to lead to the same room as the eastern exit of the previous room. So they decide to take that way, to leave nothing in their back. This leads directly to the next combat, as there is a mummy behind the door. Again the randomly chosen effect (out of only 2 cards at the moment) is the Rogue. But before we can roll initiative somebody remarks that it is getting late, and we decide to postpone the combat into the next session. Well, at least this makes the next session easier to prepare, presuming they'll stay in the catacombs.

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