Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Roll20 ToEE Play Report: The Battle Against Lareth, part 2

Last time, the characters were locked in a life-and-death struggle with the evil cleric Lareth. Long story short, the battle took far longer to play out than I expected. The players had a difficult time hitting Lareth's high AC. But on the other hand, I as the DM was rolling incredibly unlucky on Lareth's behalf. Despite all his advantages, he simply could not consistently hit any single opponent. When he did hit, it was devastating. But most of his attacks just simply missed the mark. As I mentioned last time, I do all my rolls out in the open, so his attacks were there for all to see. Even the players themselves could not believe their good fortune.

At any rate, here are some screenshots to illustrate the highlights of the battle:

Prior to this screenshot, Lareth had taken down the party Cleric, who was now lying on the table and bleeding out (I have house rules for negative HPs before a character is truly dead). With the Cleric down, Lareth turned his attention to the Halfing. The Dwarf and the Magic-User have run up to help, after murdering Spugnoir for his recent betrayal... the Mage to try and save the Cleric (he was carrying a Potion of Healing), and the Dwarf to help the Halfling battle Lareth.

In this screenshot, the Dwarf has landed a critical hit on Lareth. In my game, whenever a combatant rolls a natural "20", he also gets to roll on a random table which describes special damage inflicted, according to weapon type. Here you can see the dice results, and the Dwarf has inflicted 24 points of damage on Lareth in a single attack.

In this next screenshot, the Cleric is back on his feet after been given the Potion of Healing and then casting Cure Light Wounds on himself. He has now moved over to heal the Dwarf if necessary. Meanwhile, the Halfling has landed his own critical hit on Lareth, as illustrated here:

Although he has suffered two critical hits in a row, Lareth is still hanging on. He made another offer to bring the PCs into his ranks. But they, sensing the end was near, were having none of it. So Lareth demonstrated that he still had some fight left in him, and next landed two hits on the Dwarf. Total damage inflicted is 18 points, which is unfortunate because the Dwarf had only 5 HPs left at this point. In the span of a single 10 second round, the Dwarf has gone from being a combatant to knocking on the doors of Valhalla.

The Dwarf is now at -13 hit points, which is dead as dead can be. However, there's still hope! Last December, I ran a one-off Christmas-themed adventure in which the PCs each received a gift which they could bring back into the "real" campaign. Thus, the Dwarf happened to be carrying an item called "Fruitcake of the Gods", which when consumed restores a being to full hit points and can even restore the dead back to life if given to them within 3 rounds. The Cleric, knowing the Dwarf had this item, quickly dug it out of his backpack and crammed it down his throat.

In the meantime, it was up to the Halfling to keep Lareth occupied while the Cleric was saving the Dwarf. This he did with incredible luck because on his turn to attack the Halfling scored another Critical Hit against Lareth. This screenshot shows the results of that round of combat:

Unfortunately for Lareth, he could not weather this last critical hit... The damage inflicted pushed him into the negative range, and he died with his intestines spilled out on the floor in front of him. However, we decided that was not dramatic enough, given the extraordinary circumstances and dice rolls. Instead, we decided that the Halfling disemboweled Lareth, then choked him to death by strangling him with his own intestines. The Halfling's player, being something of a doodler, later posted an illustration to commemorate the event:

I can't figure out how to rotate pics in Blogger...

The defeat of Lareth brought us close to the end of the game session. The party quickly looted the dead inhabitants and were inspecting the fine furnishings of Lareth's personal quarters when we stopped for the night. And a clue has been uncovered which could lead the PCs to the next stage of the quest!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Roll20 ToEE Play Report: The Battle Against Lareth, part 1

Last time, the PCs had just defeated the first of Lareth's guards, but more were quickly arriving. When we started up this week's game, a general melee quickly broke out but the scales tipped in the PC's favor when the Mage cast a well-placed Sleep spell and dropped most of the remaining guards and their sergeants. Some of the PCs began to dispatch the sleeping guards, but by now Lareth himself had been alerted to the trouble by his Lieutenant, and both moved up to engage.

The action was so fast-paced that I forgot to take screen shots as the battle progressed. However, here is a view of the scene when we stopped for the night, along with captions explaining various situations around the battle map:

Additional details regarding the battle:

Lareth began by casting Hold Person, immobilizing both the Fighter and Thief. That was the first and only spell he has (so far) successfully cast.

The Lieutenant began firing his long bow at the party Mage, but rolled horribly (as the DM, I do open rolls). The party Cleric responded by casting Hold Person and, of course, the Lieutenant failed his saving throw.

The party moved into Lareth's outer chamber and one PC quickly dispatched the now-held Lieutenant. Lareth attempted to cast another Hold Person spell, centered on the Cleric but, amazingly, all affected PCs made their saving throws.

The Mage attempted to Web Lareth but his phylactery magic item prevented it from having any effect. The Halfling threw a flask of oil, but Lareth simply moved out of the space (and through the ineffective webs) before it could be lit.

The party Cleric jumped up onto the trestle table, to engage Lareth in melee. He responded by casting Cause Disease at the Cleric. Of course, the Cleric made his saving throw.

Lareth shouted an offer to the PCs: Join him, and he would give them power and wealth, as his new Lieutenants. The party Halfling paused and asked for more details...

Spugnoir, on the other hand, had heard enough. After being more or less ill-treated (especially by the Mage) since joining the PCs, he decided to throw in with Lareth. His first action was to cast Sleep at the remaining PCs. In my game, one house rule is that the targets of a Sleep spell are allowed a saving throw to avoid the effects. Predictably, every PC who was required to make a save was successful. Despite his pleas for mercy, Spugnoir was quickly cut down by the Dwarf as a reward for his betrayal.

Lareth used the disruption caused by Spugnoir's actions to cast another spell. Again he cast Cause Disease at the party Cleric. And again, the Cleric was successful with his saving throw.

In frustration, Lareth decided to give up trying to cast any further spells and engaged the Cleric in melee. First round, the cracked the Cleric upside the head with his Staff of Striking and knocked him down to only 3 hp remaining. The Cleric shouted for the Dwarf to move up and help.

The Halfling made a half-hearted attack with a whip he carries, but also asked Lareth if he had any brochures he could look at, before deciding whether or not to join with him. I said, "No, but he does have a website and you can also follow him on Twitter."

And that is where we left off for the night. Although Lareth's spells were mostly a miserable failure, the PCs are also depleted of any more offensive spells. Meanwhile, Lareth is largely unscathed, has a formidable AC, and can inflict serious damage through dual-wielding his mace and staff. Although things look grim for him, the battle is by no means finished.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Roll20 ToEE Play Report: Moathouse Boss Encounter Begins

Last time, the party was back at the Inn of the Welcome Wench, planning to get a good meal and a peaceful night's sleep. All the better to prepare themselves for what they felt would be the final encounter at the Moathouse.

Rested and refreshed, the party set out early the next morning. This time, everyone felt comfortable enough to ride their personal horses to the place, without fear that the animals might be attacked while they were exploring underground. However, they did decide to bring along both NPC Animal Handlers on the party's payroll, as well as their Guard Dog. The NPCs were instructed that, at the first sign of any trouble, lead all the animals back to Hommlet and the PCs would return on foot, if possible. Once again, no one was willing to let Spugnoir ride along, so the party Halfling let him climb up on the pack mule he himself "rides" while they're on the road.

The Party sets out for the Moathouse once again
Because the Moathouse is only a few miles from Hommlet, the party soon arrived at the place and went back inside its dungeons. This time they used the secret entrance/exit which they'd discovered last time near the Boss's presumed lair and made their way back to the mysterious barred door.

The Party Arrives at the Door to The Lair of the Boss
The party Fighter and Dwarf tried opening the door quietly, but that proved impossible. So they decided to just bash it down and jointly made the rolls to do so. One failed his roll, the other succeeded. So I ruled that it took a couple of hits, but the door finally gave way. Unfortunately, the accompanying noise gave the guards stationed just inside enough time to form a rank and fire crossbow bolts just as the door flew open. The Dwarf took a hit but the damage was not too severe.

The Guards retreated down the hallway, calling out to their comrades that the now-expected intruders had returned. The Dwarf and the Fighter immediately pursued, but did not adavnce as quickly due to the Dwarf's slower movement rate. The party Cleric and Halfling followed closely behind in order to provide support.

The Party Cleric and Halfling follow the Fighter and Dwarf up the Hallway
At this point, the party Mage decided to let his long-simmering animosity towards Spugnoir come to a boil. Instead of following the party Cleric and Halfling, he suddenly turned and ordered Spugnoir to quit lingering in the back and "Move! Get up there and help!" The party Thief, who was originally preparing to follow the Cleric and Halfling, quickly changed his mind and stayed back to see how this unexpected confrontation between Mages would play out.

The party Mage calls out Spugnoir, while the Thief looks on with interest
Spugnoir, well aware of the Mage's dislike towards him, was nonetheless taken aback by this sudden display of open hostility. After a couple of hidden DM rolls to check against Spugnoir's morale and the Mage's charisma (as well as a Wisdom check), Spugnoir decided it was in his best interest to (mostly) comply with the Mage's orders. He did indeed move up, but the Mage also began chanting the casting of a spell. Spugnoir was unwilling to turn his back on the Mage (or the Thief, for that matter), but it turns out the Mage was merely casting a "Shield" spell on himself before entering the fray up ahead.

Spugnoir warily moves into the hallway, but doesn't turn his back on the Mage
Meanwhile, the Fighter and Dwarf had charged to the end of the hallway and smashed into the guards positioned there, who had been attempting to hit them with more crossbow fire. However, the only additional damage sustained thus far was a stay bolt which struck the Cleric.

The Fighter and Dwarf both killed their tormentors in a single round of combat. But now that they'd reached the end of the hallway, they could see more reinforcements moving up to engage them in melee.
The Fighter and Dwarf achieve their first victories, but more work lies ahead
At this point we had reached the established end time for our game session. So everyone logged out for the night, ready for the next round's initiative roll when we all meet again next week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Roll20 ToEE: Moathouse Exploration Continues

My Monday night Roll20 group continued playing through the ToEE Moat House this week. When we left off last week, the PCs had just entered the room where the Gnoll informants had told them they used to get their drinking water, but stopped going when a couple of their number went there and never returned.
The PCs find the underground pool of water
 Of course, the players were curious to know what could be the reason for the Gnoll's disappearances and their subsequent fear of the place. So they marched right up to the water's edge and held their lantern up to get a better look. Not surprisingly, the light and movement quickly attracted the attention of the beast that was the source of the trouble.

The underground pool's new inhabitant surfaces and hopes to make a meal of at least one of the PCs 
Given the PCs rather incautious behavior, I thought it reasonable that the creature should get a free surprise attack. The players' jokes about a lobster bake tonight at the inn were quickly silenced the the Giant Crayfish immediately inflicted 10 points of damage on the Dwarf.

Unfortunately (for the crayfish), that was the only damage he ever managed to inflict on anyone. Every other attack of his missed, while the Dwarf was rolling hot with his +1 Battle Axe. Even the Halfling managed to get in a hit or two with his Short Sword. Before the creature could even contemplate retreat, he was dead...

With all of the other side passages now explored and cleared, the players decided to enter the way which the Gnolls claimed would take them to "the Boss". By now, the party Mage was out of spells and wanted to go back to town to rest and recover. But the party Cleric's player was feeling overly-confident (despite having only one spell left himself) and wanted to press on. The other players were hesitant, but the Cleric managed to convince them.

The PCs find a door which they assume will lead them to the Moathouse "Boss"
The PCs soon encountered a locked and barred door, beyond which they assumed they would find the elusive moat house "Boss". However, the fact that the passage continued on, past the door and towards the east, bothered them. And so they decided to explore it first. After going 100 feet or so, they discovered that the passage actually led back to the surface. Off in the distance, near the Moathouse Ruins, the party could see their horses and the hireling brought along to watch them while they explored inside. Since they were already back topside again, the other PCs convinced the Cleric that it was best to go back to town after all and return tomorrow, fully re-charged for the final encounter.

The Player Characters (and invited NPC guests) enjoy dinner and drink at the Welcome Wench Inn
The trip back to Hommlet was uneventful and the PCs were soon seated at their favorite table at The Welcome Wench. Once again, the Halfling set up certain favored (by him) NPCs with an open tab and invited them to join the PC group at their table. Elmo continues to be viewed as a harmless drunk with an endless capacity for drink. The party Mage continues to loathe the very sight of Spugnoir, seeing him as competition for magic scrolls which might otherwise expand his own spellbook. Of course, this is all the motivation the Halfling needs to keep Spugnoir around, whatever the cost.

Since all of the available seating was taken up by the PCs, their hired help, and the Halfling's barfly friends, he himself perched on the table and prepared to regale everyone with his favorite form of entertainment: bawdy sea shanties.

Watch for the next exciting episode, coming soon!