|the Dead Acre|
TL;DR (October 17-18 AD 597)Canus Returns. The Dead Acre. Naiad Trouble. Maptool Issues. Experience Schemes.
See, what had happened was . . .We started with Brs. Canus, Charles, and Cerdic along with Sr. Anastasia. We didn't have Father Bernard with us this time, which meant minions, if any, were going to be a big issue, and we wouldn't have much in the way of healing. This created interesting complications. The intent this time was to start plumbing the megadungeon proper. The characters know three entrances, but they've taken none (and they've missed one too!).
Canus ReturnsWe start things out with Brother Canus returning to Canterbury with the bones of Li'l Eric, Takk the fletcher's youngest son, who was Canus's guide out to the desecrated druidic grove where the evil Bro. Canus actually sacrificed Eric in hopes of appeasing the aquilabear.
Canus's player took this opportunity to make things worse for his character via his flaw (his flaw being, like, his entire character). So he stumbles in a daze into Canterbury, hauling stringy kid-bones, and everybody is gawking at him. The whole town sees him. The kid's father (Takk) does too, and we cut with Takk collapsing under the realization of his son's death. Canus makes his save vs tragedy just fine; so he's no closer to doom.
Cut to a few hours later, post Vespers, and Bishop Liudhard is grilling Canus about what in the world happened. Canus reveals that Abbot Laurentius sent him on an errand to speak with the druid Byrne, but he was cagey about the telling, and now the bishop is very suspicious of both the abbot and Brother Canus. I'm sure this is going to turn out just fine.
Canus talks to Father/Abbot Laurentius next, who's halfway through his transcription of 1 Kings. Canus shows Abb. L. the laurel from the druid Byrne as "proof" of his death. Laurentius is delighted. He absolves Canus of every sin from the past three years—which, unbeknownst to Laurentius, includes the human sacrifice of Li'l Eric!
The Dead AcreThe party decides to head for the megadungeon proper through the skull-door they found at the back of the buried Greek-style temple beneath St. Martin's crypt. Inserting the idol into the depression in the forehead's skull allows the skull to freely rotate upward, exposing the mouth, which is the passage to the next area. It's a 30' long 5' thing that ends in a smooth wall with a little indentation that looks like a handle. They party sliiiiiiiides it open.
With their torchlight, they can see they're in some kind of field. There's weird skeletal looking crops growing to the north and pale, transparent trees with visible networks of bloodred sap growing to the south. A 20' wide central avenue goes E-W as far as they can see. And they also see two torches about 150' away.
They douse their torch and send Sister Anastasia to scout ahead in the dark. She feels along the right hand wall, going south for 100', hitting a corner, then going E for 95' before she feels the wood of a door. But she also stubs her toe on a pile of rubble, which draws the attention of the two things holding the torches. They're goblins statistically, but they look like those things from The Descent:
The goblins are supervising a bunch of Gaelic (Anastasia can tell from their language since she's Gaelic herself) slaves, who were picking gelatinous, spherical "fruit" off the trees. Since Anastasia can tell the goblins are investigating, she hightails it back the way she came, and she manages to slip into the secret passage and shut the door behind her before the goblins can catch up to her. (The gobs were being cagey and never got a clear visual.)
They make a plan on the quick: open the door, toss the torch out, and then chaarrrrrrge. It happens. There are six gobs standing outside the door. One had already run away to alert the rest of the complex.
It's a quick thing. Six HD 1 - 1 gobs can't put up a decent fight with a party of three level 2s and a level 3. The party tries to interrogate the last goblin for a while, and then they hear the howling of wolves. Dire wolves, of course. Rather than retreat, the party attempts to head for the door that Sister Anastasia discovered.
But, man, dire wolves are quick. Three of them, with goblin mounts, intercepted the party while they were in a line against the south wall. Five more support gobs joined the party next round.
This junk was a bad scene. Anastasia (the ranged DPS character) was down to 1 HP and got totally shut down until the very end of the fight. Our level 3 tank, Brother Charles, got knocked unconscious and probably would have bit it had Bro. Cerdic not been there with the heals. The PCs were all literally up against a wall, outnumbered more than 2:1 with standard creatures (no minions).
But, in the end, they cut Anastasia free, and the DPS of Brother Canus and Sister Anastasia managed to clear out the remainder of the enemies. The last two gobs fled. One got away, and Sister Anastasia managed to injure the other with a blind shot into the darkness.
Having expended all their resources, the party ran back for the safety of the secret passage. They closed (and heard lock) the secret door behind them and took a breather in the cella of the buried temple.
Naiad TroubleWhen they emerged into the church of Saint Martin (intending to take an extended rest), they heard screams. They saw Grecian urn-shards. Oh noes. The naiads have escaped.
When they emerged into the sunlight (it's only about 7 am on Oct 18 now), they can see the three naiads are just slicing through the two. 23 people are dead in the streets, and Aethelberhrt's thanes are putting together a shield wall just outside his longhouse/meadhall. Already their numbers are reduced.
By the time the battle's over, only 5 of Aethelberht's thanes are left alive. The challenge of this encounter wasn't whether or not the PCs would live; it was how much damage the naiads would do—and would they break through the shield wall to kill the king? Bro. Charles luckily managed to impose himself in the doorway of the king's longhouse, preventing a campaign-twisting event.
But now Aethelberht's seriously weakened, and there's already been trouble with Cyng Ilfwine of Essex . . .
It failed us again this session. I kept having it black out, and there was the—ugh.
So here's what we're doing next time: instead of opening two instances, one player instance that's always in the projected area and one GM instance on my laptop, I'm just running a single instance, keeping it in the projection area most of the time, and dragging it out of viewable range when I need to make some change to the map—erasing vision blocking layer (VBL), etc.
I'm hoping this will solve our problems. I don't see why it shouldn't.
Experience SchemesI've been toying with various experience schemes, and this is the first time we've used the one I think will be the permanent one.
Under this arrangement, the XP-to-level requirements are standard 4e. However, whenever you defeat a standard creature, you get XP = a minion of its level. If you kill a minion, meh, it's 1/4 of RAW minion XP.
The bulk of your XP will come from the recovery of treasure (using a silver standard), the remainder being made up with roleplaying, various class features, and baptisms.
There were protests (Brother Charles, I'm looking at you) since, all told, the 12 gobs, 3 wargs, and 3 naiads were only worth 600 XP, but them's the grits. Find that treasure!
It still proved enough to level Brother Charles to 4. The rest of the party is at level 2.