The Dead God, part 1
Please note, as this blog is new, this is my first play report but not the first game in the campaign. This is the first time the PCs have a glimpse who their enemy is, though.
I hope to have an introduction to the campaign itself on line soon. Suffice it to say we play in a somewhat modified Forgotten Realms, pre-Avatar crisis.
For now, here is a summary of the last adventure, which spanned two game sessions.
- Ambre Mangefer, dwarven fighter and jeweler.
- Elerossë Friedman, half-elven warlock and puppeteer.
- Koyaa Nisqatsi, human paladin.
All of them began the adventure at level 2.
Session 1: to the mine!
The game began with the PCs in their home town of Daggerford, where they are members of the militia. They were quite outraged at learning goblins had ambushed a peddler not a day’s walk out of town. Well, maybe not at the ambush itself; what bothered them (and the militia officers) was that the goblins were looking for the PCs – “the she-dwarf, the thug and the pointy-haired fop” seemed to match. Worse: they were trying to get them to “the Dead God”, whoever that was.
So the PCs, as militiamen, where sent to gather any relevant information about these goblins, with orders not to get themselves killed in the process. They set off with Furrik, the hunter who had found the semi-conscious peddler, and two acolytes from the temple of Lathander, who were to bring the peddler back to town.
It was quite easy to trace the goblins back to an old silver mine in the Wolves’ Vale, a few hours’ walk east of the place the peddler was ambushed. So the PCs went there, with Furrik leading the way, and tried to gather some intelligence before deciding whether or not to enter the mine.
The mine was in the vale, across a small river from the PCs. The buildings outside, although in disrepair, were obviously occupied. There were a few horses in a pen, and the PCs spotted a hobgoblin bringing them food.
Elerossë went alone as the stealthiest party member; he managed to get to a place above the buildings, next to the pen. Alas, as he was trying to get a better look, a goblin patrol stumbled upon him and raised the alarm. Elerossë tried to jump on a horse and failed, so he ran for his life and managed to cross the river under the fire of goblin and hobgoblin bows, while Ambre and Koyaa were trying to get the bowmen with their crossbows. An ogre came out of one of the buildings and tried to get to Elerossë, who distracted it with an illusion.
The party got back up outside the vale in time to see an ogre and a small party of goblins led by a hobgoblin had crossed the river to come after them. The ogre tried to come directly to them through the woods, while the hobgoblin and a few goblins followed a path (the hobgoblin was on a horse) and the remaining goblins stayed in the vale and attacked with their bows.
Elerossë tried to get the ogre with his spells before the monster could get in range for melee, while Ambre and Koyaa fired their crossbows at the goblin bowmen. The bows and crossbows didn’t do much damage, but Elerossë almost got himself killed when the ogre stopped to throw his javelin at him. Luckily Ambre had a healing potion at hand.
Elerossë finally managed to get the ogre down just before it closed enough to attack, while ambre cut down the hobgoblin who was getting in melee range as well. That was enough to make the goblins flee. Elerossë managed to kill one with a spell anyway.
We called it a night at this point.
Session 2: the Dead God (almost)
After the fight with the ogre, the PCs retreated for a short rest. They were about to go back to the mine and try to enter again when a young woman came out of the trees near them: Vahn, a local druidess who looked like she knew much about the mine and its inhabitants.
They learnt a few useful things from her. First, the mine was occupied not only by goblins and ogres but by something much stronger and more evil, even though she was unable to find out more. Then, some goblins were bringing a large group of slaves from the east to the mine; they should get there the following night. Finally, there was a second entrance to the mine through a cave a little further down the vale.
So the PCs opted to try the second entrance, hoping to find it undefended. This proved a false hope; as Elerossë tried to sneak close to the cave, he saw the remains of a fire inside, and was obviously spotted by whoever was around. The PCs, knowing a fight was unavoidable if they wanted to get in, tried to gain advantage through the use of an illusion making Ambre look injured; this didn’t have much effect, and they found themselves face to face with goblins once again.
The fight was more or less even, with some more goblins coming from inside the caves after hearing the noise of the fight; the PCs suffered some serious hits but they managed to kill most of the goblins. A couple ran off successfully though, and fled inside the caves toward the mine.
Getting further underground, the PCs arrived in a big cave where the goblins lived; while Ambre was looking around and Elerossë was looting the bodies of the slain goblins, Koyaa ran into two zombies coming toward them. Even though Koyaa’s torch went out when he dropped it to wield his two-handed sword, both zombies were down before Elerossë could join the fight.
Having found few valuables in the goblins’ nest, the PCs went on into a tunnel at the end of the big cave. In the next cave they were harassed by a couple of goblin bowmen; chasing the goblins led them through another tunnel and into a cave where an underground river was flowing.
Just before exiting the tunnel Ambre and Koyaa saw movement just outside. Elerossë cast an illusion of Ambre getting out of the tunnel into the cave; two zombies attacked the illusion from the sides of the room. Ambre and Koyaa then attacked the two zombies. Killing them proved more difficult than the first pair but the PCs eventually succeeded.
The PCs were now in the cave with the river; they saw a ledge above the tunnel they were coming from, and a pod hanging beside it. They used the pod to climb on the ledge, which was obviously man-made, or at least much altered. There was a tunnel leading inside the rock, and a door which was closed or stuck. They elected to follow the tunnel.
A few moments later, they heard the sound of moving rock behind them (a secret door opening, though they did not know that at the time). They quickly found themselves between a small band of goblins led by some kind of shaman or witch-doctor before them, and an undead behind them.
The undead was obviously intelligent, and neither he nor the witch-doctor was actively hostile, even though they weren’t the friendly sort either. The undead introduced himself as the high priest of the Dead God, and asked the party to give him the body of the God.
Elerossë understood on the spot: the undead was talking about his puppet. So he threatened to destroy it, and as his bluff didn’t work the party attacked the priest. Their attacks didn’t look like they were having much effect until Koyaa cast his command spell; the undead failed its saving throw and fled for a round, which gave the party just enough time to run to the pod and drop along with it to the lower level (actually Elerossë jumped in the pod, Koyaa and Ambre jumped on Elerossë and the pod got down, with only Elerossë lightly injured by the fall).
Oops, this should not have happened, I just realized command does not work against undead. I guess I’ll have to find a reason it worked this time. :-)
The PCs ran for their lives; luckily they didn’t encounter anything before getting out of the caves (or after, for that matter). They got away from the mine as fast as they could; they spent the night at Furrik’s before going back to Daggerford on the morning. There, they reported to their officers, who managed to secure them access to the ducal archives to try to learn more about the mine. The only thing they could learn from the tax records was that the mine had been worked by priests of Waukeen more than 50 years ago.
We stopped the second session here, and everyone levelled up.
What I learned
This is the second time I use zombies in D&D5. The first time was the very first session of the campaign, and the lone zombie proved very difficult to kill even though it was not very efficient. This time, the first pair went down in only a couple of rounds even though Koyaa had the disavantage because of the darkness (they are really easy to hit, so the disadvantage was not a big deal in practice). The second pair took a few rounds of repeatedly hitting them even though they were already reduced to 1 hit point. They are not really dangerous because they are slow and clumsy, but their saving throw vs being dismembered, while random, makes them quite resilient against low-level characters.
The second session was the first time we used miniatures and a grid for a fight, only for the first big fight with lots of goblins running around. Everyone looked happy to be able to visualize the situation easily; I know I was. This encouraged tactical play with somewhat unexpected effects; Ambre getting hit and taking quite heavy damage from an attack of opportunity with a bow was suprising. This also allowed the goblins to use their racial ability to disengage as a bonus action to its full advantage.
Finally, I did not expect the undead priest to fall so easily to a puny spell like command (well, OK, it should not have, but this issue notwithstanding even easy saving throws feel easy to fail in D&D5). Elerossë’s combination of hex and agonizing blast-enhanced eldritch blast was also very efficient against the ogre in the first session.