Posted by : David Guyll May 06, 2013
- Yllian Faraday (high elf wizard 2)
- Randy (wood elf druid 2)
- Iola Talmiel (wood elf monk 2)
- Perseus Eurymedon (human paladin 2)
- Corvus (human ranger 2)
Since last week it was decided that the characters were heading to Copper Cairns with a caravan in order to engage in some good old-fashion paid murder, I took the time to add some more towns, a fort, a hex-grid, and flesh out that particular story arc some more. As a result the map changed from this...
Normally I would have just told them that they got there in about day without any hassle, as I learned a long time ago that having one or two random encounters a day was basically a complicated procedure that ultimately output free XP and/or treasure. With this I could not only better track their travel time, but I also got the satisfaction of rolling for a random encounter each time they entered a hex (using the convention I started in A Sundered World, where they got to choose the numbers that would trigger one).
The first random encounter was more psychologically scarring than anything else (though I imagine the flock of 2d4 + 1 cockatrices would also do the trick); one of Beth's goals for Perseus is to get something that is a pegasus in more than just name. This is not anything new, as her prior goals usually amounted to something along the lines of getting a horse-like creature, with an extra accessory or two (pretty much a unicorn or pegasus).
Four hours go by smoothly, but when they get to the south-western edge of the Goathills Iola notices something flying south. What could it be, you ask? Oh, a pegasus! Of course Perseus and Iola entertain the notion of dropping everything to follow it--probably because they thought that they could easily tame it--and of course no one else wants to do that because it is flying pretty quickly, and they are kind of on a schedule. Perseus and Iola relented, but at least they knew a good spot to look for one later, right?
Then they saw the rock.
It spun through the air, colliding with the pegasus and sending it spiraling to the ground. By itself this would be more than enough to shock them, but then they saw the stone giant that threw it. They continued to stand there and watch as it walked over to the downed pegasus, produced a elaborately carved stone club from the ground, and smashed its head. It then casually scooped it up, tossed the club over its shoulder--which merged with the ground as it landed--and walked back into the hills.
The rest of the day went on mostly uneventfully. Among some dialogue trees that I do not care to repeat, I recall Perseus and Iola promising to wreak vengeance upon the stone giant. You know, once they tripled their current level. Night fell, and given they were still three hours away from Goathill Quarry, they stopped to make camp. While Perseus seduced one of the caravan guards, the rest took turns with the watch. As in they helped keep an eye out for intruders, not, you know...
Anyway, everything went fine until they heard the screams. The caravan guards--or most of them, at any rate--were the first to the scene, discovering the dessicated remains of three other guards. As the alarm was raised, Yllian spotted something in the darkness outside the campfire's light. Perseus--weapon and shield in hand, and absolutely nothing else--rushed beyond the wagon circle to look for the attackers. He could just barely make out a humanoid figure in the dark, until Randy illuminated it with a well-placed fire seed.
Its skin was paper-thin, and seemed to just barely contain its bones. It was clad in old, rusted scale armor, with a helmet made from a large ram's skull. It was also swinging a massive club, which easily connected with Perseus since his Armor Class was down some six points. While Perseus, Randy, and Iola fought the undead creature, Corvus, who had hidden himself in a wagon, noticed two more creeping into the camp: they were similar to the first one, except one had a dragon skull for a helmet, while the other wielded two claw bracers.
He shot the one with the dragon-helmet almost point blank with an arrow. It barely seemed to affect it, but it still retaliated with a gout of fire. This attracted the attention of Yllian and Randy; the former blasted it with a few magic missiles, while the latter managed to bind it with an entangle spell. Perseus used Channel Divinity to smite the one with the ram helmet, and Iola finished off the one with the dragon-helmet with a flying boot to the head.
Which left just one. It charged Iola, knocking her to the ground and rending her with its claws Hunter style. One good damage roll and a crit later, and she was down for the count. Thankfully Corvus had access to a bit of healing magic, and was able to bring her back. After a charge from Perseus (which triggered the Boar King's Tusk's bonus damage), and a salvo of magic missiles from Yllian it was destroyed. The worst part--for me, anyway--was that, despite it being a wight, Iola's hit point reduction would go away the next day since she had not taken a long rest, yet.
With all the wights destroyed they inspected them, and discovered that they were warriors from the Chimera tribe, the equivalent of princes by the various trinkets that they wore. This meant that wherever they were buried would likely contain treasure of some sort. Even better since they just re-killed the occupants, it might even be unguarded (HA!). Though they decided to wait until morning to see if Corvus could track them back to their lair, they did not need to: once the sun was up they were able to clearly see the trail of dead grass where the wight's had tread.
The caravan master gave them the go ahead, stating that without them he would have lost even more men, and that they would wait in Goathill Quarry for a day before moving on.
Behind the Scenes
I decided to just let the stone giant do interesting stone-magic-things, making it up on the spot. I did not stat anything out, but would probably let it do it pretty much as often as it wants because it makes sense and is cool. This is the kind of stuff I would want monsters to be able to do, not just cull spells from the wizard's list.
For example, why does the aranea Customization Options include access to shocking grasp, magic missile, and sleep? None of those sound particularly spider-like. This is where I greatly preferred how 4th Edition handled monsters; you could design pretty much anything you want using a minimal of space.
Even at 27 hit points wights go down really quick, especially when over half the party can make ranged attacks that not only do half damage on a save, but allow you to followup with an actual attack. I was only able to use the wight-with-the-dragon-helmet's breath weapon, because I decided to make it a reaction when the wight lost half its hit points (or bloodied in 4th Edition parlance).
I preferred it more in 4th Edition, where healing powers just healed, radiant attacks just did damage, and vulnerabilities were up to the individual creature. As it is the damage is nice, it still deals half on a save, and you can still make an attack regardless of the outcome.