Switching up to September
Changes to characters: As we are all still L1 there are only minor changes to note.
Lore is dropped.
Skills, Proficiencies and Languages are decided partly by Class and partly by Background.
Some equipment changes: for example the dagger’s range drops to 20’ effective.
½-Jack the Halfling Rogue:
½-Jack is delighted to find he now has a bonus on any Dex based save and now possesses rogue skills, picking up proficiency on a range of fairly practical skills (he’s particularly pleased with Deception which reads very broad and will allow a +7 to any check once Expertise is added), and is now able to stack his Dex bonus and proficiency bonus together with the same weapons he previously used with Dex bonus alone.
Banjo Carrick the Elf Mage:
Banjo is less enthused as he was already adding that +1 Proficiency, which used to be known as Spellcaster Bonus, to all spells. The wording of Ray of Frost is now clear and he knows he must add Proficiency plus Int bonus only. The pregen spell Charm Person is swapped out for his previous Thunderwave, which better suits his character. Turning to skills, his Proficiency Bonus on Int and Wis saves will be handy. His pregen skills are altered to accommodate Tool use – Banjo and he is ready.
Brother Abram Gaunt, Cleric of Tempus:
Gaunt’s equanimity is undisturbed as his proficiencies on Wisdom and Charisma saves will help, and his swap-out background (War instead of Life) means no change to previous spells. He sticks with the pregen skills of History, Insight, Medicine and Religion.
Martel “Hammer of Justice” Guerra, Paladin of Tyr:
Guerra notes he has gained a language by comparison with the previous version (he adds Orcish); his Background (bountyhunter) skills of Perception and Search seem to overlap, as Search is a subset of Perception. Stealth may be handy, if he ever strips off his heavy gear. His Class skills allow a choice and based on needing to jump and climb he chooses Athletics over Persuasion or Religion. A couple of his weapons have reduced range and his hammer has reduced damage.
Although Proficiencies take quite a bit of re-reading, the group understood how to use them in regular play and gives those a much bigger tick than it did Lore. Saves with and without Proficiencies are going to be more of a challenge to track but Level 1 is too low a level from which to judge that side of the game.
Backgrounds are going to be quite crucial. It was interesting that the Halfling was left with the non-standard background of Sailor.
Singing Stones Quest: final pair
“Two singing stones to go. I ask the honor of leading, for now, as I have plenty of missile weapons” pronounces Guerra. Gaunt agrees and we set Milgan before the cleric, with Carrick in the middle. ½-Jack once more takes up the bullseye lantern. We figure not much more than two hours of oil left in it.
Milgan squawks in alarm a short time later and we realize we are being attacked from behind!
Round 1: a large humanoid, with kobold-size shapes sheltering behind it, walks slowly forward, closing the range to around 30’ of Br Gaunt. Carrick steps a few paces that way and uses Ray of Frost to slow the big creature [1 damage, but no matter how minor the damage the target is slowed; DM declares a minimum move of 5’ for it]. Guerra runs back through the party and as he reaches Br Gaunt, launches his javelin, missing; he calls “it’s a blind Ogre!” ½-Jack floods the target with light as he places the lantern down to one side. Gaunt steps a few paces closer and throws Sacred Flame at the creature [2 damage]. “Fall back, and watch our backs, Milgan!” Guerra commands, and the deep gnome does so.
Round 2: Two kobolds to the rear of the attackers step out and sling stones but miss as the Ogre gropes forward. Carrick uses his Ray of Frost again, this time on a kobold, slowing but not killing it [another 1]. Guerra is now at effective javelin range and throws [with advantage on a blind target] his dart sinking deep [8 damage]. ½-Jack has two hands free now and uses his short bow to good effect [9 damage]. Gaunt throws sacred Flame again [2 damage]. Guerra and Gaunt warn the others they will probably drop back a short way.
Round 3: The Ogre, no longer slowed, paces forward 10’ and two kobolds rattle shot off the tunnel walls again. Carrick places a much better Ray of Frost on the Ogre [7 damage] and Guerra makes a tremendous cast of his last javelin [crit, 12 damage] and as the Ogre drops dead the paladin advances, shouting! ½-Jack shoots past him, dropping a kobold; Gaunt advances, wounding another kobold.
The kobolds flee.
Singing Stones Quest: Closure
We find and collect two more singing stones, and walk back with no further delay as the bullseye lantern has expired and we are now using Light spells. An hour of steady walking takes us back to the fissure.
Guerra speaks: “I believe this could be closed, if we concentrate on the narrow end. What say you, Milgan? Are there any weak spots a pick could collapse?” Milgan scratches his bald dome dubiously but mutters that there are some likely looking cracks that something to knock away. “My Thunderwave spell would do that, and it will only take me four hours rest to regain it,” Carrick claims.
Guerra spreads his caltrops at the Wyrm-tunnel end and we tack the large net up again at the broad end, and rest. Carrick now has the shock-wave effect ready, and Milgan shows him where to blast. We cover our ears [Carrick’s spell does 10 damage plus pushing] and rocks collapse, catching the elf [2 damage for missing Dex save by 1].
We make our way back and hand over the stones to the deep gnome bard, Gurmadden. We listen to him and his friends making high-frequency music. He is pleased enough that he agrees to hand over his ancestral ring (a fire opal) as a loaner for Pingtu, and pays us 60gp and a gold medallion.
“This will be safest with me,” says ½-Jack convincingly, using Deception in a contest against Guerra’s Insight and winning.
It’s no wonder that the rogue’s player was so pleased with the new Proficiency plus Expertise rules. His Halfling’s natural Cha bonus is +2, adding +1 for Proficiency with Deception and +5 for Expertise with Deception. Bearing in mind that very few NPCs will have any counter-expertise it’s hard to guess where this could lead the Rogue class, long-term. The rogue may eventually be the natural party leader!
On the other hand, there can no longer be a case of a rogue having skill bonuses above 30 or 40. At most a golden-tongued L20 rogue will get +5 Cha bonus, +6 Proficiency, +5 Expertise, and +x from magic (if allowed to stack). My own feeling is that Expertise should replace Proficiency, not stack.
Standing Stones “Gem” Quest
Pingtu now has three of the seven gems required. We know that Burrow Warden Kargian has an emerald, and Pingtu reminds us that a sapphire is supposedly under Ruby in the Rough. That leaves a ruby and an amethyst.
We head north, re-supply from Fendrick, and double-check his knowledge of the Pech, which is slight. Needing a few spell components (fleece, luminous moss) Carrick and Gaunt walk across the under-dark village to old granny Henkala’s, while Guerra and ½-Jack linger in Ruby in the Rough, the great central cavern area.
Guerra mingles and speaks persuasively [DC22]. A good deal is volunteered about where rubies might be found. The consensus is that Orc territory contains an old altar that was once ruby-decorated.
As for the tunnels under the area, ½-Jack finds that no-one seems too worried about us tramping under their temple and exploring.
At Henkala’s Carrick’s purchase and banter [Persuasion DC19] softens her heart and she volunteers her Amethyst for the cause. She encourages the two spell-casters to stick to the Pech mission – talk to them to see if they know anything that might affect tackling the Elemental, she suggests again.
Having gathered again, we discuss options and decide to walk north-east to the Pech. But first, we deliver the Amethyst to Pingtu, and have a full meal and sleep [long rest, mainly as we have taken an entire day doing all this].
Diplomats to the Pech/Elemental Quests
We soon make our way from the deserted eastern barricade to the old Weaponsmiths and Armorers Guild hall. The walls are dark and our new-replenished bullseye lantern is not has helpful as it could be. A couple of the sharper-eyed [Carrick, ½-Jack making Notice checks] spot a small flitting shape and at one time, a face that pushes out of one of the stalactites then retreats back into it. At the far end of the hall Carrick can also pick up old forges that the stone seems to have literally grown over.
After using ½-Jack’s diminutive size and Carrick’s persuasive skills [DC21] an uneasy rapport is established. [Didn’t seem as though the Ideal/Flaw/Bond rules would work at all in this situation and GM did not seem to use them.]
The Pech spokes-Pech, whose name is Gallus, tells us that Orcs lie to the north, Kobolds to the south. Of the elemental he at first is diffident but then reveals some startling information. It seems that the evil one, Ogramok’s Bane, is due to the deep gnomes summoning the good one, Entimok’s Boon.
We discuss what kind of arrangement might be possible between Pech, who dislike shaped stone and want to grow it all back again, and deep gnomes, who want to shape stone. We leave a suggestion that they may be permitted more space under Ruby in the Rough once we clear it out. Gallus seems willing to assist in confronting the Bane: we will have to return when we are ready to do that.
Kargian and granny Henkala are both brought up to date on this development.
While checks were being used to achieve diplomatic results, it neither felt as though this was the “right” procedure, nor that we should be breaking this down into Ideal/Flaw/Bond process. At the risk of belaboring this point, that would have slowed the already-sluggish negotiation down too far.
Kargian’s Ambition: The House Center Clearance Quest
Although we have not yet been blessed with more power, we decide we may as well have a stab at the House Center, mainly because our GM tells us we could have done that an hour ago.
Passing the barricade where Guerra’s Bounty Board trait allows him easy familiarity with the guards, we walk north-west into the vast cavern where House Center is built. It seems to stand in the middle of the cavern. Iron doors sag open on the east and a rubble-choked door faces us on the south wall.
We set up an inverted-Y formation with ½-Jack, then Carrick some 15’ back, then Guerra and Br Gaunt standing 15-20’ back from Carrick and as far from each other. As ½-Jack shines the bullseye into the rubble two man-size shapes shamble out.
- Orc Zombies
Round 1: Guerra runs forward and launches his first javelin at what appears to be orc zombies, missing. He’s now roughly level with ½-Jack. Carrick drops his Ray of Frost on one [5 damage] and falls well back. The zombies stagger forward 20’, around 10’ from the front line. ½-Jack darts forward, stabs at the wounded zombie ineffectually, and is slammed hard as he retreats [6 damage]. Gaunt [amazed that he has not Turn] presents Tempus’ holy symbol and hits the wounded zombie with Sacred Flame [6 damage] and the zombie drops.
Round 2: Guerra launches his second javelin, missing comfortably, and falls back (to ½-Jack’s horror). Carrick slams an arrow into the remaining zombie [9 damage]; it weaves forward and swings at ½-Jack, missing, and the Halfling wastes no time, disengaging a full retreat. Gaunt again casts Sacred Flame [5 damage]. He does not retire.
Round 3: Guerra casts wildly, losing his third javelin, and readies his sword. Carrick sinks another arrow into the zombie [6 damage] and drops back even further. A quick 20’ shamble brings the zombie face to face with Gaunt, but its blows cannot get through the cleric’s defenses. ½-Jack, who is handy to the fight, helps Gaunt by stepping alongside and waving the light into the zombie’s face. Gaunt strikes the zombie with his mace [3 damage]. It won’t die!
Round 4: Guerra smashes a two-handed blow into the zombie’s head [11 damage] and it drops at last!
We really like the zombie template! After the session, the GM explained that a zombie makes a ‘Con’ save against damage+5 and provided it makes it, stays on 1hp. Suddenly zombies become more like “aiieee! why won’t they diiieeee!!!!” for a non-L2 Cleric party.
Sack o’ Beetlepower
We set up the order of entry as Br Gaunt, ½-Jack with the light, Carrick, and finally Guerra, now back to 2 javelins. As Gaunt scrambles through the rubble into a smallish chamber he is attacked by immense fire beetles!
Surprise round: Four beetles attack but Gaunt escapes barely-scathed [only 2 damage].
Round 1: ½-Jack, adjacent to Gaunt, sneak-attacks a fire-beetle [crit] killing it. Carrick fires Ray of Frost at another but misses. Guerra switches javelins to shield hand, draws hammer and flings it, crushing another beetle. The beetle doing its best to eat Gaunt nibbles him again [1 damage] then Gaunt, wielding his mace expertly, shatters his attacker. Only one beetle remains.
Round 2: ½-Jack misses while Carrick slays the final target with Ray of Frost.
We “mine” six intact fire-beetle glands and Guerra pops them in his tattered old reserve backpack. There is only one exit to take from here!