Saturday, November 22, 2014

Death By Dragon: Week Five of Kingmarker with Lost Mine of Phandelver

I've made mention before that my campaign started off as a combination of elements from Lost Mine of Phandelver and the Paizo Kingmarker Adventure Path.

As a quick note, Lost Mine of Phandelver to me, is the best 'official' adventure Wizards of the Coast has put out yet and if you haven't picked up the starter set yet, Amazon has it for $11.99.

I'm still digesting the kingdom rules from the hardcover Ultimate Campaign, so didn't want to run Rivers Run Red just yet. While there are elements that don't rely on the player's having the kingdom in play, I wanted to give the players as much Kingdom awesome as I could and well, wasn't ready. Thankfully the group is cool about that and I mentioned that they should follow up on their missing Dwarf co-Pathfinder member. It costs them!

Instead of using Phandalin as presented, I swapped it out with the River Kingdoms city of Pitax.I felt this worked out well in several ways. First, it's a fairly decent sized city. Important when the players are looking for spells and other mundane items that might take a while to find out their current outpost. Second, I don't know if it's a deliberate attempt or not, but Pitax feels very much like Rome in that it's almost a 'renaissance' city with lots of families doing various corrupt things and having a pleasant facade to hide behind. After watching the series Borgia, I was ready to role play some of that out.

It also didn't hurt that the players will eventually have different things to come to Pitax for in the future if we follow through with the entire Kingmarker series.

In Pitax, the players learned a bit about the city, about River Kingdoms in general, about some of the families here, and sought out information on their dwarf friend whose been held prisoner since oh, week one of the game I want to say?

They learned the whereabouts of a druid who knew the local region well and sought him out. During that bit, they encountered some twig blights. These are little evil halfling treants basically and the party made quick work of them. Why WoTC wants to keep using them as I don't think they've ever been popular since their introduction in Sunless Citadel in 3e era, I can't imagine.

There were also some unique zombies, ash zombies, that had a little extra ability, a nice example of a mini-template.

But the druid? He had the information that the party wanted, but needed a certain young green dragon gone. One of the players had a bit of background in his campaign that I used to include the dragon, Venomfang, in as his main antagonists.

Now the dragon's in a tower. The tower is so many feet wide and so many feet deep. It's basically a cooking oven for the dragon's poisonous breath.

Remember that elf monk I've mentioned in the past? That I painted up a Stonehaven miniature for?

Missed his first save. Took 42 points of damage in first round of combat. Erdan Nailo, who put clan above self, an elf that could hold a grudge? Dead.

The party made some good efforts at killing the creature. The druid casting some resistance from poison on himself, the halfling rogue having an innate resistance to poison. The dragonborn leaping upon the creature's back, which I gave him advantage for as long as he stayed on.

But then, at the player's roll, as few things are as entertaining as making the players roll their own potential doom, the dragon's breath weapon recharged. Another blast and Damaia, a tiefling warlock, who the player hadn't updated to 4th level from 2nd yet, went down, as did Naronel, an elf wizard. The elf player screwed that up and I allowed it, because he mentioned that he wanted to leave the tower, but then didn't actually do so. Who was I to allow him to not stay for the barbeque?  At that point, the dragon had taken over half his hit points in damage, which the text calls for a retreat.

If I had been running things to kill, oh yeah, it would've been an easy TPK but that's no fun. Especially as the dragon was taunting Kontos, the dragonborn who had him written into his background, pissing the other players off who felt that the dragonborn knew more about their foe than he let on.

So the dragon shakes off the dragonborn fighter, who fails his Athletics roll and takes 4d6 falling damage, and the party claims the loot!

At this point I'm giving the new characters 1,000 gold pieces, no access to magic items, and half experience points of the lowest level character. How do other people handle introducing new characters?

The group voted on the experience rules, so I don't feel bad about them, but as the Dungeon Master's Guide isn't out, still a little 'weirded' out by allowing magic items. I might just rule that those killed by dragon breath had all their items destroyed and that their new character can start off with similiar items.

Next week we're taking a break. I'm still reading Ultimate Campaign from Paizo to get the Kingdom building rules in place. Some interesting stuff there. Too bad for the group that they just lost three positions! Take that stupid adventurers!

One of my players is going to do a paladin and wants to use the rules for assimar that are available from the Dungeon Master's Guide preview which I said okay. It's not like the rules are going to make THAT big a difference and the book will be out soon enough. Another is making a wild mage with a charlatan background.

That charlatan background bit is particularly funny to our group because one of the other players, in our last campaign, Warhammer Thousand Thrones, was an Imperial Wizard, who our hedge wizard initially labeled as a charlatan and it stuck with that character till his death.

The last player hasn't decided what she's making yet. Hopefully all of her goods and abilities are fully up to date this time!