Friday, December 23, 2011

Ice Ice Baby (or "Seeds of Chaos," Session 3)

Even as a pre-Christmas storm was dumping a foot or more of snow on the Denver-area, the PCs in our D&D campaign— by an odd coincidence— also found themselves journeying through a landscape covered with ice and snow.

At the end of the last session of our “Seeds of Chaos” adventure, our heroes had claimed victory in a skill challenge and successfully navigated their way through an unnatural blizzard north of the small village of Loudwater. Well, almost everyone made it through the blizzard… As the unnatural storm subsided and the PCs took stock of their situation, they realized that Silas was missing. Oh no!

Visibility was limited, but they could make out the stark gray silhouette of Draigdurroch Tower still some distance away, so the party decided to use the few remaining hours of daylight to proceed to the tower and hope that their lost comrade would catch up with them at some point. (Drew was already out-of-town for the holiday, so his eladrin vampire Silas would be missing from this Thursday night’s session.)

Frost Goblin Ambush

As our heroes drew nearer to the tower, they reached an area where several hills came together with dangerous ice between them. Suddenly, a mass of goblins leaped up from the hills! Most of them brandished javelins and crude short swords, but a few of them wore better armor and carried crossbows. From the highest vantage point, another goblin clad in robes waved a rod and made arcane gestures.

  • 3 Frost Goblin Sharpshooters (Level 2 Artillery)

  • Frost Goblin Cutters (Level 1 Minion)

  • Frost Goblin Hexer (Level 3 Elite Controller)

Gaultis succeeded on a Nature check and realized that these goblins appeared different than normal. Their blue skin was highly unusual, and the fact that they weren’t dressed for the bitter cold indicated they had somehow adapted to the unnatural weather. The PCs guessed that whatever was causing the strange weather had also affected the goblins living in the area.

Blake kicked things off by boldly charging up one of the hills. Unfortunately, none of his companions could move up and support him right away (they rolled very poorly on initiative), so he was targeted by most of the goblins on their turns (they rolled very well on initiative). He was quickly bloodied during the first round of combat, and although he used razorclaw shifting during his second turn to call on the primal power of the beast within, it still wasn’t enough to prevent him from going down as he was once again targeted by multiple crossbow attacks. Dagon then bravely rushed up the icy hill and swiftly administered a potion of healing to his unconscious friend.

Once Blake was healed by Dagon, the crisis point of the battle was passed and the party then went on to slowly but surely defeat the frost-touched goblins on the three hills. At the end of combat, the PCs managed to capture the last goblin sharpshooter and interrogate it. Before it succumbed to its wounds, the goblin told them that its tribe had been hired by Deneith and Thaliost to keep people away from the old, abandoned wizard’s tower. Just before their prisoner died, it said that “some big strange magic” had happened the previous day and it had not only affected the weather, but also transformed the goblins.

Searching the battlefield before moving on, the characters found 50gp, a potion of healing, and a nifty shield of deflection that was claimed by Gaultis.

DM Tip: I picked up some of these 1-inch boundary tokens from Litko Game Accessories. They’ve proved to be extremely useful when marking out areas of effect and whatnot. You get a pack of 16 tokens in four different colors.

Draigdurroch Tower

When the party arrived at the tower, they found it encased from top to bottom in a shimmering cocoon of pure ice. The fading sunlight was reflected in all directions by the angled planes of the frozen barrier. A palpable sensation of bitter cold emanated from the tower.

The tower’s only obvious entrance was a single door at its base, but a foot-thick sheet of solid ice stood in the PCs’ way. Rather than simply having Boojum use one of his fire spells to melt the ice, our heroes decided to chop their way through the frozen barrier. It took a while, but they did it. After clearing their way to the door, the PCs found it was locked. Blake tried to pick the lock with a toothpick, but it broke off in the lock. The shifter next attempted to break down the door, but failed. Gaultis then stepped in and with one mighty blow smashed in the door.

Once the PCs entered the tower, they found that the conditions inside were not much better then those outside, except that the howling wind and driving snow mercifully ceased. The temperature remained below freezing, and a thin layer of frost covered every surface inside the tower. The ice that coated every surface reflected and amplified a strange magic light, so the entire interior of the tower was brightly illuminated.

Boojum was the only member of the party interested in exploring the tower’s first floor, while the others headed straight for the staircases and for the second floor. Boojum’s solo exploration revealed that several of the first floor rooms contained fireplaces that still had frozen blue flames within them. From a couple of the fireplaces, Ice Warrior Shardlings (Level 1 Minion) emerged to attack the pixie.

Meanwhile, Blake was once again charging ahead of the rest of the party, up the stairs and to the second floor. As the impetuous shifter reached the top of the staircase, a featureless elemental creature made entirely of translucent blue ice stomped forward. It wore heavy armor and carried a huge maul-shaped chunk of frozen ice. Behind it, a more slender version of the same creature created long, sharp missiles of ice, ready to throw. Yet another version of the same basic monster, this one wielding a wicked blade of glistening ice, glided across the floor, jagged shards of ice crystallizing out of thin air all around it.

  • 2 Ice Warrior Icicle Hurlers (Level 2 Artillery)

  • 2 Ice Warrior Raiders (Level 2 Soldier)

  • Ice Warrior Frostling (Level 4 Controller)

As Gaultis and Dagon pounded up the staircases to join a battered Blake, Boojum was left to follow along behind as best he could. As I said something about the ice warriors’ resistances and vulnerabilities, the feisty pixie shouted, “Everyone’s vulnerable to Boojum!” Which, of course, just had to make it into the blog.

This turned out to be a difficult battle for the party. Combat ranged across both the first and second floors. At one point, an Icicle Hurler took a special interest in Boojum and pursued the gravely wounded pixie down the stairs. Boojum finally decided enough was enough, whipped out a daily (Slimy Transmutation), and turned the pesky monster into a tiny toad. Despite that moment of humor, midway through the encounter every PC was bloodied and things were looking grim for our heroes, but they persevered and finally overcame the elemental ice monsters.

Once the party caught their breath and could look around, they saw that the entire second level was taken up by a huge laboratory. An alchemical workbench stood against one wall, while another table was covered with bits and pieces of warlock implements. Some crates and barrels containing various magic and alchemical supplies lay scattered about. The bitter cold and the ice that covered every object and surface had ruined most of the supplies and equipment, but Dagon discovered three small ceramic flasks of alchemist’s frost that were still usable.

As they poked around the laboratory, the PCs were puzzled because the tower was clearly at least eight stories high when viewed from outside, but inside there was no obvious way to reach the third floor from the second floor. But then, with the clock rapidly ticking down to closing time at Total Escape Games, Boojum made an important last-minute discovery: The pixie wizard found a section of floor in the southeast corner of the room that he thinks will act like a Tenser’s Floating Disk and take the party up to the next floor of mysterious Draigdurroch Tower.

Tune in next week to find out if Silas finally shows up and to see just what the party will discover as they explore the upper floors of the tower!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mud Monsters, Evil Trees, and Wee Plastic Stands

We met this past Thursday night at Total Escape Games in Broomfield, CO for the second session of our new campaign. No one brought Oreos to this session, so I decided this time the gloves were coming off… and in the course of the night’s action, three different characters bit the dust— unfortunately, all of them were quickly healed.

I’m NOT saying, of course, that my level of bloodthirstiness as a DM is directly linked to whether or not there are oreos at the table. No, of course not.

Anyway, to review the dramatis personae of our story…

  • Gaultis— a goliath warden, played by Chad

  • Silas— an eladrin vampire, played by Drew

  • Boojum— a pixie wizard, played by Steve

  • Dagon— a watersoul genasi artificer, played by Robert

  • Blake “the Blade” (because, intelligence-wise, he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer)— a razorclaw shifter barbarian, played by Andy

The action at our second session picked up with the PCs following Phystal through the deep, dark forest. After they had freed her from the mysterious affliction that had poisoned her mind, the remorseful elf had agreed to lead our heroes deeper into the woods. Phystal said that whatever malign presence was corrupting the forest and its residents seemed to be located in the sacred grove at the very center of the woods.

Navigating through the forest involved the completion of a skill challenge. When the PCs ventured deeper into the forest and entered a realm of madness and shadow, they were glad to have Phystal’s help since she granted them a +2 bonus to skill checks in the “Enchanted Woods” challenge. As distances stretched, trails shifted, trees moved, and creepy laughter filled the air, the characters found that making their way through the forest was not easy… but they eventually came to a small clearing containing a bog.

As Blake entered the clearing and scanned the immediate surroundings, slight movement across the way revealed a slim form hidden in trees! Our heroes quickly found themselves in a battle with more of the corrupted elves. On the second round of combat, some kind of mud monster rose out of the bog and also attacked the PCs. (As soon as this encounter began, Phystal fled into the forest.)

  • Mud Lasher— medium elemental magical beast (earth, water) (Level 4 Brute)

  • 3 Elf Scouts—medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 2 Skirmisher)
The characters didn’t have a whole lot of trouble taking out the rabid elves, but the mud lasher gave them fits. Before they finally took it out, Gaultis and Silas both went down under its relentless, sludgy assault. Gaultis earned the distinction of rolling the first death saving throw of the campaign.

After combat was over, our heroes didn’t find any loot, but when Dagon made an Arcana check on the mud monster, he discovered that it was an elemental magical beast. Silas then shared with the others that something odd had happened when he used his fey step during the encounter. Instead of finding himself in his fey happy place for a split-second as he teleported, this time he found himself in a spot of earth and rock in chaotic, violent seismic activity. These insights, coupled with their knowledge about the magical curse which had poisoned Phystal’s mind, led the party to suspect that the malign presence corrupting the forest and its denizens might be elemental in origin. Well, at least most of the party suspected this might be the case… Blake was simply thinking about mashed potatoes.

After taking a short rest, the PCs pressed on deeper into the forest. By successfully completing the rest of the skill challenge, the intrepid adventurers found their way through the strange woods and had surprise for the next encounter.

As the party emerged from the malicious woods, they found themselves in a wide clearing littered with ruins. Evil radiated from a large tree (henceforth known as “the evil tree”) with black bark and bare branches that rose from a depression in the clearing’s center. Tangled, thorny vines crept around the evil tree. Swirling mist issued from a dark crevice in the tree’s trunk. Across the clearing, an old monolith stood atop a bare hillock. Strange portals hung in the air around the clearing. (Silas used his action in the surprise round to do an Arcana check on the portals and discovered they’d teleport you to a random location on the map. The PCs never engaged with the monolith, but it actually would’ve let the first PC to touch it regain an encounter power.)

A pale elf warrior suddenly came into view! He was wielding two blades and his face was twisted into a hateful mask. A sleek panther with tufted ears and striped fur stood next to the elf and fixed the party with its baleful eyes.

  • Anise the Chaos Warrior— medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 1 Elite Brute)

  • Fey Panther— medium fey beast

  • 3 Bloodthorn Vines—medium natural beast (plant) (Level 2 Soldier)

  • The Evil Tree—large elemental magical beast (plant) (Level 1 Elite Controller)

  • …when the evil tree used its Blightborn Calling attack, it spawned four Blightborn Twig Blights (Level 1 Minions) in unoccupied squares within a burst 5…

As luck would have it, Boojum (the little so-and-so) used the surprise round to throw out some kind of goshdarn fire spell into the middle of the clearing. Since he could sustain it over several rounds, and since the evil tree was vulnerable 10 to fire, the encounter was over fairly quickly. But not before Gaultis and Blake were both cut down and taking dirt naps. That’ll show ‘em what happens when you don’t bring oreos to the game… er, I mean… Better luck next time, guys!

DM Tip: For these first three encounters I used an adventure published in Dragon 178: “Elves of the Valley” by Robert J. Schwalb. I adapted some elements to fit the story-line I have chosen for our campaign, but otherwise I pretty much stuck to the published adventure.

Once the evil tree was felled, the bloodthorn vines collapsed into piles of regular old normal vines, and Anise and his panther returned to their right minds. The elf was so grateful that he literally gave Blake the shirt off his back (armor of sudden recovery). Anise also gave Boojum two gems (“Oooo, shiny!”).

Meanwhile, Silas searched the corpse of a male human that the party had noticed at the bottom of the depression in the clearing’s center. It looked as though the man had been torn apart by the evil tree. The eladrin vampire found an empty pouch, 30 gp, and then (cue dramatic organ music) he discovered that the man was wearing an amulet with the symbol of Orcus upon it! As a special, super-secret agent of the Raven Queen, Silas is —of course— an avowed enemy of Orcus.

Dagon inspected the tear in the evil tree’s trunk and found some kind of brown crystal embedded there. As he pried it out and inspected it, the genasi realized it’s a shard of pure elemental chaos! Dagon told the others that the unpredictable, primordial power locked into the earth crystal must have been the source of the strange occurences in the Wintermist Forest.

Our heroes also noticed the body of a goblin lying crumpled near the edge of the clearing. As Blake searched the small creature’s corpse, he found a letter. Whatever had killed the goblin (perhaps the bloodthorn vines) had also damaged the letter, but by reading around the torn sections, the party learned several important pieces of information.

  • The letter was written by Thaliost (one of the two surviving members of the Six Hands of Fortune) to Deneith (the other surviving Hand— who had apparently just met his end there in the clearing).

  • After Deneith planted the earth crystal in the clearing, he was supposed to return to “the tower” where Thaliost needed his help attempting a new ritual on an ice crystal.

  • The two surviving members of the Hands were apparently working in league with an ally in The Citadel.

Our heroes were dismayed to find that there was a traitor at The Citadel, but they still decided it’d be best to head back there with the earth crystal and inform Lord Bothwell of all that they had discovered.

As the party was making its way out of the forest and Dagon was telling the others all that he knows about the Elemental Chaos, several men stepped out from behind some trees and surprised our heroes. The men had beards, wore flannel shirts, carried axes, and in general looked like very manly men. Recovering from his surprise, Silas haughtily ordered the men to stand aside, telling them, “We’re on official business for Lord Bothwell.”

The manly men said that if the party was indeed taking Lord Bothwell’s coin, then they were just the ones the men needed to speak to. It turned out the men were woodcutters from the small settlement of Loudwater on the eastern edge of the Wintermist Forest. They asked the PCs to return with them and investigate some terribly unnatural weather (in what should be the hottest part of the summer) affecting Loudwater. When Boojum wanted to know if the unnatural weather had something to do with cold and ice, the woodcutters said, “Why, yes! How did you know?”

Our heroes decided to postpone their return to The Citadel until they had investigated the strange winter weather affecting Loudwater. When they reached the small settlement, they listened to farmers worried about the effect of the freezing weather on their crops. They heard from hunters who had seen strange blue-skinned goblins lurking around the outskirts of the forest. Townsfolk spoke of freak snowstorms occurring in the middle of the day and then vanishing as if they were never there. Everyone agreed that the worst of the odd weather seemed to be centered around an old, abandoned tower north of Loudwater. The locals told our heroes that Draigdurroch Tower was some old wizard’s abode back in days of yore, but it has been abandoned for decades.

When the characters departed Loudwater, there was a pronounced chill in the air. The first few hours of their journey passed uneventfully, but the temperature steadily dropped and a sharp wind carried with it the promise of winter, even though the leaves had not even started their annual autumn change.

More time passed and the map given to the party by the folks of Loudwater indicated that Draigdurroch Tower should’ve only been a few miles away. However, none of the landmarks shown on the map were visible. The horizon was shrouded by a blanket of solid white. Snowflakes began to fall from the steel-gray sky. As our heroes continued on, they were soon caught in the middle of a full-on blizzard. The way ahead was quickly obscured, as was the way they had just come.

Time for another skill challenge!

The party had to use their skills and knowledge to survive the harsh conditions, while also staying on the right path to the tower in the midst of the driving snow. I’m sure you won’t be surprised, dear reader, when I tell you that our heroes claimed victory in the skill challenge and successfully found their way through the storm. Boojum, Gaultis, and Blake each lost a healing surge, but that was the worst of it.

Then, with closing time at Total Escape Games rapidly drawing near, our second session ended with the unnatural storm subsiding and the PCs catching sight of the tower, which was still several miles away. The eerie tower rose out of a landscape covered with snow and ice.

What will our heroes discover next week in our adventure, “Seeds of Chaos,” as they reach the doors of mysterious Draigdurroch Tower?

DM Tip: After reading an article on The Learning DM website, I ordered some of these handy plastic stands from Fantasy Flight Supply and used them with D&D tokens during this session’s two combat encounters. I couldn’t take any photos during the game since the batteries in my camera were dead, but I set up this little scene after I got home and as you can see from the picture, the stands work great with the monster tokens. I’m a big fan of the D&D tokens and use them quite a bit, but my one gripe concerning them was that they lay flat while everything else on the map is upright. These plastic stands solve that problem nicely. As you can see in the pic, we ignored the token’s facing and instead just slipped a red mini poker chip under the stand when the monster was bloodied. If you use tokens in your D&D game, I highly recommend these plastic stands from Fantasy Flight Supply.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Elves, Oreos, and a New Beginning

The start of a D&D campaign is always an exciting time, so I had been looking forward to this past Thursday night’s session when we’d begin a brand new adventure. We’d dove right into our last couple of adventures (Tomb of Horrors and Expedition to Castle Ravenloft) with higher level heroic tier characters, but we decided to start off our new campaign with a party of still-wet-behind-the-ears Level 1 heroes.

After much serious contemplation, metaphysical cogitation, and geeky conceptualizing, the guys decided they’d play:

  • Blake— a razorclaw shifter barbarian, who makes some mean mashed potatoes (Andy).

  • Boojum— a pixie wizard, who enjoys riding around on his fey panther beast companion (Steve).

  • Dagon— a watersoul genasi artificer (Robert).

  • Gaultis— a goliath warden (Chad, a new player joining our group).

  • Silas— an eladrin vampire with special ties to the Raven Queen (Drew).

  • I, of course, would continue in my firmly established role of chaotic evil DM.

DM Tip: With Chad joining us for the first time, I was sure to inform him beforehand of a long-standing tradition that whenever a new guy joins our group, he has to bring a package of Double Stuf Oreos to his first session. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a “long-standing tradition” in the sense that we’ve ever had a new guy do it before… but, hey, traditions have to start somewhere, right? (What I didn’t tell Chad is that if he had neglected to bring the oreos, his character would’ve quickly found himself trapped all alone in a dark room with a very angry Level 22 elder red dragon. Chad must have suspected there might be trouble, though, since he brought three packages of oreos with him. Woo hoo! Don’t tell the others, but you are my new favorite player, Chad.)

The Adventure Begins…

Six months ago, Blake, Dagon, Gaultis, and Silas had volunteered for a short stint in the kingdom of Arbroath’s militia. After escorting a high ranking government official to the northern city of Hume, their enlistment was just five days away from expiring. Rather than travel all the way back south to the capital city of Forlindon (a ten day journey) before being discharged, they were given the option to stay in Hume for the last five days of their enlistment and take their discharge from there.

They chose to stay in Hume, so they were told they’d have to do some work with the city guards for those last five days of their enlistment. On their first day of patroling the city streets, the four friends came upon a disturbance that required their attention. Angry shouts and the sound of loud crashes were coming from a shop in the theater district. As they entered the shop, our heroes saw that it looked as if a tornado had torn through it. A pixie, its tiny arms full of costume jewelry, was flitting around in the air, chased by an angry shopkeeper waving a broom. The mischevious fey was squealing, “Ooooo, shiny! So pretty! Shiny, shiny, shiny!”

That was their introduction to Boojum. After calming the shopkeeper and sternly lecturing the apologetic pixie, Blake, Dagon, Gaultis, and Silas continued their assigned patrol, only to find that Boojum had unilaterally attached himself to their party. “I’m a fey, just like you!” he shouted in Silas’ ear as he perched on the unamused eladrin’s shoulder. “Ooooo, you’re a big ‘un!” he cried as he flitted around Gaultis. “Neat hammers! Can I have one?” he asked as he examined the throwing hammers tucked into Blake’s belt. “Like, hey, dude! Surf’s up! Ha ha ha!” he laughed as he circled around Dagon’s head.

Despite—or perhaps because of— the pixie’s continuing childlike antics, our four heroes found themselves accepting Boojum into their tight knit circle over the next four days, as the pixie followed them everywhere they went.

When they weren’t on duty, the party spent quite a bit of time exploring Hume’s offerings in the way of taverns. In several of the taverns, they heard that Lord Falkirk Bothwell of the barony of Newhaven had recently issued a call for adventurers to help with some kind of trouble in his realm. During their time together in the militia, the four comrades-in-arms had discovered that none of them particularly wanted to return to their previous lives after their enlistment was up. In fact, they found that they all shared a thirst for adventure and a desire to make a name for themselves out in the wide world. To that end, the four companions (and their new friend, Boojum— who is always up for some fun and excitement), decided they’d travel north to Newhaven just as soon as their enlistment expired.

That’s how our five heroes came to be walking (well, except for Boojum, who was riding his fey panther named Fred) north along the Trade Road. Along the way, they stayed for a night in the Armoured Duck Inn and met the innkeeper, a dragonborn named Balasar. While at the Armoured Duck, the party found out that Lord Bothwell—a paladin of Bahamut— resided at a fortress called The Citadel, which they would come to as they continued north on the Trade Road. Bothwell, they were told, had captured The Citadel about five years ago from an evil band of adventurers called the Six Hands of Fortune. Bothwell and his companions had slain four of the Hands, but the remaining two had escaped. Our five heroes also learned of rumors that spoke of some kind of recent trouble with the elves up in the Wintermist Forest. Balasar said he could hardly credit such rumors, though, as there had never before been any trouble with the Wintermist elves.

At The Citadel

When the party finally reached The Citadel, they found it to be an imposing stone bastion situated on a commanding hilltop. (I gave each player a map of the The Citadel so they could use it to keep notes on various locations and NPCs, if they so wished. Some of you may recognize the fortress from the D&D website as Restwell Keep or “The Keep on the Chaos Scar.” The website is where got this map.)

After being granted entry into The Citadel, the party was escorted to the inner bailey and into the fortress where Lord Bothwell (who bears a striking resemblance to Sean Connery) met them in the great hall. Bothwell asked the party many questions about their adventuring experience. Garrick Blackoak, the veteran sergeant of the guard, was ready to show the party the door when they confessed their only experience up to that point had been as members of Arbroath’s militia (and Boojum’s greatest feat of arms had been in a ‘war’ with some troublesome squirrels), but Bothwell reminded Blackoak that everyone has to start somewhere. Bothwell said he’d be quite pleased to hire the party to investigate the trouble up in the Wintermist Forest for him, and offered them 150 gp to undertake this quest. Despite the fact that they possessed zero experience as adventurers, Boojum and Silas decided they wanted to haggle a bit, and the pixie ended up convincing Lord Bothwell to increase their fee to 200 gp.

During the conversation, a jolly priest of Avandra had entered the hall and Bothwell introduced him as Halix Breland, a member of his Privy Council. Breland offered to put the party up in the Chapel of Avandra for the night, and Bothwell agreed. During dinner with Breland in the chapel’s living quarters, the party found out some more information about The Citadel. They learned that the two surviving members of the Hands were Thaliost (a male tiefling) and Deneith (a male human), but no one knew where they went after escaping from Bothwell’s attack on The Citadel. The talkative preist said that Beren Kell, Bothwell’s bailiff and another member of the Privy Council, had also served the Hands. “I was a bit surprised Falkirk kept him on since Kell’d served the Hands, but that’s all water under the bridge, as they say,” Breland told them.

When they asked him about the trouble up near the Wintermist Forest, Breland said he had heard the rumors about the elves, but he also could hardly credit such nonsense since there had never before been any difficulty with the Wintermist elves. When Dagon asked the priest if he had anything he could give them that might help them on their quest, the priest gave them a bag of holding that has the symbol of Avandra inscribed on it.

Elves Gone Wild

After traveling northeast from The Citadel for three days, the party came upon the smoldering remains of a farmstead. Dead farm animals littered the fields. A few corpses, some burned, revealed that the attackers were wanton and merciless. Dagon found a potion of healing and 10 sp in the remains of the farmhouse. As Silas examined some of the arrows that were still embedded in the farm family’s bodies, he realized that the arrows were elven in origin. Tracks in the muddy ground led off into the forest.

As the party followed the tracks, black arrows suddenly hissed out from the foliage near a grove of birch, elm, and maples. The PCs found themselves in a vicious battle against four elves and four hunting wolves.

  • Phystal— medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 2 Controller)

  • 3 Blackleaf Snipers— medium fey humanoid, elf (Level 1 Artillery)

  • 4 Hunting Wolves—medium natural beast (Level 2 Minion Skirmisher)

The PCs managed to hold their own against the surprise attack, and then they slowly gained the upper hand as they fought the elves through the thick underbrush and bracken. At the end of the battle, our heroes were able to capture Phystal, the elven war party’s leader. As they searched the bodies of their enemies, the party found 110 gp and an amulet of physical resolve. When no one was looking, Boojum shrunk the amulet down to tiny size and slipped it around his neck.

To learn something from Phystal, the party had to get past the defiance in her soulless black eyes. The party succeeded at the skill challenge that allowed them to interrogate the elf. They learned that the magical curse afflicting Phystal had an elemental origin. A victory in the skill challenge let them lift the curse corrupting Phystal’s mind. When she came to her senses, she warned, “There is evil in the forest, ancient and abominable. It whispers in the darkness, poisoning our minds. Beware, friends, lest you succumb to the same corruption.” After imparting those glad tidings, Phystal offered to lead our heroes to the grove in the center of the forest where the mysterious corruption seems to be originating.

What will our heroes find next week as they follow Phystal deeper into the forest?


DM Tip: To represent the elves in this encounter, I used some plastic Munchkin figures that I picked up quite a while ago at Total Escape Games, my FLGS. These fun plastic minis come in male and female, six to a pack, and each figure is a different color. They’re just the right size to use in a D&D game and so I turn to them them quite a bit to represent humanoid NPCs or monsters, and since each of the six figures is a different color, it makes it easy for me to track damage and whatnot (“The red elf takes six damage.” “The blue elf is slowed.”).

* I neglected to take any photos last Thursday night (even though I had put the camera in my backpack, I just totally spaced on remembering that I had it), but I’ll try to remedy that oversight in our future sessions.