Monday, 28 November 2011

Session VIII: The Sinister Shroom

[Well, I wasn't able to run this session as a dual epic cut-scene battle after all. A variety of factors conspired to prevent myself and most of the other players from meeting up to create their back-up characters. Instead, I'll wargame the success -or otherwise- of the defending forces back at the Temple later tonight using 2nd edition AD&D Battlesystem Skirmishes. Unfortunately, most of my mini's and terrain are still packed-away following the move. I'm afraid I'll have to use paper counters instead. A pity really, as I'd love to do a battle-report on the attack, but there we go. I'll be taking notes though. If enough people are interested in such a thing I can always set up the miniatures and terrain at a later date and take the photographs then]

Anyway, we left the players just as the opened a door to come face to face with the Sinister Shroom:

Character Roster

Exploring the Caves (players present):
Ailil Shadowdancer: Elf Male Assassin/Illusionist 2/1. Played by Rhidh
Andros: Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 2. Played by Aimee
Boagris: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 2. Played by Silv
Friendly: Trog NPC. Played by Caroline.
Kallias: Human (Mycenean) Male Cleric 1. Played by Elle
Ki Oman: Human (Zaman) Male Dual Classed Assassin1/Bard 1. Played by Ali
Surly: Trog NPC. Played by Niall.
Thanatos: Human (Mycenean) Female Assassin 2
Xenos: HUman (Mycenean) Male Fighter/Magic User 1/1. Played by Leoni.

Guarding the Camp (absent players, injured PC's and NPC's):
Alexis: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Larraitz
Bombata: Human (unknown) Male NPC
Euthalia. Human (Mycenean) Female Cleric 1. Played by Caroline
Merithena: Human (unknown) Female NPC
Thera: Human (Mycenean) Female Paladin 1. Played by Niall.
Thot: Half Elf Male Magic User/Cleric 1/1. NPC

Garrison at the Temple of Meerax (absent players and NPC's):
Antipater. Human (Mycenean) Male Ship's Master. NPC
Kallisto: Human (Mycenean) Female Fighter 1. Played by Jackie
Minerva: Human (Mycenean) Female High Priestess and Princess of Mesos. NPC
Peliakos: Human (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Played by Coakley
Sparious: HUman (Mycenean) Male Fighter 1. Spare Character.
The battle opens up with Shadowdancer (whose player was running late) fading into darkness while Boagris and Andros, each standing at the entrance of one of the two southern doors into the chamber, set to receive a charge. Ki Oman and Kallias keep an eye on the various corridors and doors behind the party. Friendly the Trog begins the actual combat by tossing all three of it's darts at the Sinister shroom, hitting with two. Kalias, out of spells, lingers at the back away from trouble.

Thanatos and Xenos, meanwhile, move into position behind the front rank fighters, ready to fight with their spears. At this point, the Shroom, still reeling from the two darts embedded in it's rubbery trunk, unleashes a nasty surprise on the party. It waves it's arms in the air as though spellcasting. Boagris, succumbing to the Shroom's spell, drops his spear and shield to the ground and blinks rapidly in confusion. Meanwhile the Shroom's unusually large podman bodyguard moves into action, advancing upon Andros who, thrown by Boagris' strange behaviour, merely knicks the creature with her set spear.

Surly advances to join Thanatos and Xenos in the second rank, wondering why the big tasty human in the front suddenly smells so off. He soon has his answer.

“Noooooooo! Don't hurt my Shroom!” Boagris, throwing his arms wide, leaps upon his fellow fighter Andros, wrestling her to the ground. The party's two front-rankers thereafter spend the remainder of the fight rolling around on the floor in a grapple, seemingly taking it turns to roll atop the other.

Friendly, Xenos, Thanatos and Surly take up the slack left by the brawling warriors, engaging the pod-man in vicious hand to hand combat. Thanatos, perhaps regretting her new found atavism, goes down hard on 0hp after taking a pummelling from the creatures fists. Ki, on the other hand, notices a door-way potentially leading into the Shroom-room from the west [I say suddenly, but what I really mean is that I had forgotten to include the damn thing in the room descriptions until Ali noticed it on the map] and hurries towards it, intending to flank the creature. Shadowdancer (whose player arrives around this time) follows. Friendly, meanwhile, is badly hurt by the Shroom's magic missiles but stays in the fight.

While the two fighters continued to play “king of the hill” on the floor, the brace of party-members fighting the pod thing finally begin to make a visible dent in it's considerable pool of hit points. Realising his body guard is about to go down, the Shroom flees -or rather, hops and slithers as fast as his slimy little stump will carry him- towards the rooms eastern exit, helped on his way by one of Surly's darts.

Ki Oman and Shadowdancer appear through the western doorway just as the pod man hops through the eastern exit. Flicking a switch, a portcullis falls behind it. The Shroom hops around to glare balefully at the two assassins following behind, who continue running towards the eastern door, hoping to find the portcullis switch.

[The Shroom chamber in my adaption of the module is considerably longer east-west that in the published version]

Just as Ki (in the lead) reaches the portcullis itself, the pod-man finally goes down and the Shroom unleashes a gobbet of black, mucousy goop. The globule strikes Ki full in the chest, sending him crashing unconscious to the floor on -2hp, the black gloop still smouldering on his chest.

Xenos runs into the room and, with Shadowdancer drags the wounded assassin/bard to one side, out of the Shroom's line of sight. Surly  and Friendly soon follow the others into the room. Seeing the imminent arrival of the two Trogs (and -correctly- suspecting that as former residents of the complex the Trogs know exactly where the portcullis switch is) the Shroom casts a web spell into the chamber, concentrated near the switch. The web catches both Trogs, Shadowdancer, Xenos, and Ki Oman. However, Shadowdancer is caught on the outskirts of the web and easily tears through the foot or so of gunky chord between himself and freedom. Xenos reveals his own, somewhat surprising, strength for the first time and also makes headway in freeing himself. Moreoever, the web provides no obstacle whatsoever to the two Trogs who, with cold reptilian strength, tear a path through the web towards the portcullis and it's switch.

Eyes glowing in alarm, the Shroom turns and hops away down a corridor to the south. It's too slow however, and is quickly caught by Surly, Friendly and Shadowdancer, joined shortly thereafter by Xenos. Even with four against one the melee is not a short one. It is Surly's spear that knocks aside the Shroom's longsword to pierce the rubbery hide, spilling black slime from it's fungal “veins”. Though this foul ichor covers the cavern floor, so too does a small amount splatter onto Surley himself. His arm dissolving in similar fashion to that of the late Glykeria, Surly calls out to Friendly to stay back.

“Tell the old one I died well.” he hisses fiercely, before running down the corridor out of sight and away from the equally susceptible Friendly.

Thanatos soon recovers consciousness and helps the others free Ki Oman from the web. Andros has, meanwhile, finally managed to restrain a weeping Boagris, though the former gladiator continues to struggle. His...ahem.. disposition is not helped when Xenos, his former owner and a slaver by profession, advances upon with some vine-rope, intent on tying him up. Eventually, unable to trust the violently struggling warrior in his present state, they manage to tie him securely. He is later released after having had a chance to calm down.

It's not long after this, while the remaining conscious humans and the single elf attempt to work out what to do next, that Kallias reports noise from the west. Arranging themselves in a rough combat formation, they are surprised to see Bombatta lead Merithena, Thoht (helping along a limping Euthalia) and Alexis (doing the same for a semi-conscious Thera) into the chamber. They have some disturbing news.

Bombatta: There is smoke to the south. A great deal of smoke.

Hearing the news spoken so matter-of-factly results in a great deal of swearing among the conscious members of the party. All to aware that they are a days travel from the Temple, they take the time to thoroughly ransack the Shroom's chambers. The haul of loot includes:

  • 2 rings of large copper plates containing the Shroom's spells
  • More than twenty vials of (potentially) magic potions.
  • Valuable books on Horticulture and Farming
  • Silver Goblets, Decanters and other sell-able valuables.
  • A presumably magical vest worn by the Shroom.
  • The Shroom's longsword.

These last two items are swiftly claimed by Shadowdancer. His decision to keep the longsword seems reasonable enough since he is the only party member familiar with such a long blade. However, he “forgets” to mention to the party that he has collected the vest.

They also learn (from a collection of mouldy tapestries) the sad tale of the Shroom's rise to power and his ultimate fall from grace after offending the Gods.

Returning to the camp, the party members see for themselves that there is, indeed, a great deal of smoke on the southern horizon and, in fact, now that the sun is finally beginning to set -they spent a loooong time searching the Shroom's chambers- they can also see the glow of flames reflected against the clouds.

What to do? What to do?

The possibility of bringing the Trogs and any survivors from the Temple back to the caves is brought up rather quickly, but just as quickly discarded. After all, they have yet to fulfil their bargain with the Trogs by clearing out the caves -they've left a lot of unexplored territory down there-. Moreover, they are getting somewhat ahead of themselves: the party doesn't even know if there are any survivors. Or even if the flames mean what they think it means. They discuss leaving right away for the temple, but quickly realise that, in the state they are in (with so many wounded) they might do more harm than good. It's quickly decided that someone will have to go and look.

Someone sneaky.

Everyone looks at Shadowdancer, who, knowing he is the only “sneaky” one in any position to take a look, agrees to set out in the morning with Friendly. Thanatos observes that, although struck unconscious, she has no lasting injuries and can depart in the morning with the aid of magical healing. In the end however, due to her lack of elf-vision, it is decided that Thanatos should remain behind. Plotting out the best route, the two assassins estimate that, taking into account the precautions Shadowdancer and Friendly will have to undertake in order to avoid meeting the Grey Demons, it may take as long as four days before they can return to camp.

We ended it there for the night. Before everyone left, I informed them that unless I rolled for a wondering monster before Shadowdancer and Thanatos returned, they would have four days of downtime. I didn't roll a monster, [at least, not for the guys still in camp *evil grin*] so I invited everyone to tell me their characters plans for downtime.


Shadowdancer take one of the six looted books with him when he and friendly leave later that night. Though where he expects to find the time to read it is an open question. I'll have to ask him if he intends to light any fires at night (you can't read a book with heat vision, after all). Shadowdancer also intends to experiment with his sword's cutting abilities while he travels (an attempt to discern if it is magical).

Euthalia, Thera, Thanatos, Kallias and Ki Oman all pick a book each and begin reading. I inform them that it takes a week of study and a full set of books to learn the arts of Horticulture or Agriculture. By swapping books amongst themselves they can make four days of head-way towards these goals. They wont be able to learn either skill until reading the book carried by Shadowdancer, however.

Xenos memorises (and casts) read magic on the captured spellbooks multiple times and thereafter learns the spells Jump, Charm Person, Identify and Protection from Good. On day four he memorises Identify twice, but only has to cast it once because the vest is missing. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Shadowdancer “forgot” to leave it behind. This strikes everyone as odd. After all, it's a rather colourful and gaudy object, not the sort of item they imagine Shadowdancer would ever lower himself to wear, however powerfulit might prove to be.

Euthalia, Thera and Ki Oman obtain four days of bed-rest (reading a book still counts as bed-rest). Ki Oman only needs three to fully recover from his wounds. He spends the fourth day figuring out his first Bard spell (he's now a dual classed Assassin 1/Bard 2). He also spends part of the fourth day examining the party haul to see if he knows anything about any of the items looted... er, salvaged legitimately, thus far. Euthalia fully recovers from her wounds at the end of day four.

By then, Thera is still at -3 to all dice rolls. However, if I know Niall (her player, and I do) Thera will probably be insisting that Kallios return her armour and weapons next session (Kallias is currently wearing the female Paladins custom-made breastplate. Yes. I know. But given that Kallias' physical description has been summed up by the player as “pretty boy” he probably even looks good in it.).

Andros ensures all the groups weapons are in working order by cleaning, oiling and sharpening them personally.

I'll assume the others spend the majority of their time fishing in the pool and standing guard -at least until they tell me otherwise.

So ended day 8 of the Isle of the Eartshaker Campaign. We resume play on day 12.

[Personally, I thought the players did damn well this session. They were very deserving of the single largest haul of xp since the campaign began. I was fully expecting to see at least a couple of PC deaths during the Shroom encounter. In the end, all the PC's survived, though two were taken down and a  powerful NPC ally perished. I'd beefed up the Shroom by giving him some additional special abilities to make him more like a typical myconid and removed one of his bodyguards to compensate. Even so, if not for some truly jammy dice rolls on behalf of the players, it could have gone either way. Especially when you consider that not one spellcaster in the party had even a single spell left to their name before the fight had even started!

One thing I really enjoyed about this session was that Xenos finally had the chance to shine in melee. So far he's been rather over-shadowed by the sheer number of front-rank fighter types in the party. Usually, there's not even a need for him to strap on his armour and take his turn with the other "meat-shields". But this session, Xenos was finally able to show just how “bad-ass” he is when he straps on that armour and picks up a spear.

Leoni got some really good rolls when rolling up Xenos. Even though I don't allow multi-class fighters to specialise, it was great to see Leoni's glee when she realized that old Xenos can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Boagris and Andros and hold his own. I think she got a real kick out of it when I told everyone how much damage Xenos had taken after one particularly nasty critical hit. All around the table players were wincing and muttering “ouch, there goes our last fighter.” You could have heard a pin-drop when Leoni just shrugged and told the table she had plenty hit points left. Yup. Even as a first level fighter/magic-user, ol Xenos has more hit points than most of the single-classed fighters had at first level. Like I said, Leoni had some damn good dice rolls]


Ray Rousell said...

“Noooooooo! Don't hurt my Shroom!” What a great quote!!!!!

Unknown said...

Dear DM, can we please have the Fireside Reverie write-up please? Please.....

Dangerous Brian said...

Not tonight, but you can have Session 9 instead if you like?