Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday Recap: Back to the Crushing Wave!

This guy looks like he's about to be eaten whole
This recap is actually for a game that happened last Tuesday. One of our regular players, Cait, had something come up this weekend, but fortunately we were still able to get a game in! I'm not too sure about next week, though.

Spoilers for Princes of the Apocalypse ahead!

This story is part 1 of a series. The campaign was discontinued.
| Part 1 | Part 2 |

Badgers of the Apocalypse: Back to the Crushing Wave!
The Cult's finest: rebellious teenagers, murderhobo Santa Claus, and the mascot for Xavier University

That isn't a typo. Our Princes of the Apocalypse game features a giant talking demi-badger named Hunee. Originally, Hunee was the companion to our Emerald Enclave ranger, Kethra Stormwind. But since the first group of characters were horribly and mercilessly murdered by Jolliver Grimjaw, Hunee has tracked down some new heroes to avenge the fallen and carry on the quest. So really, Hunee the giant Demi-Badger is the spirit of the quest.

It doesn't help that she is a sassy, lazy, back-talking badger with a hair poof.
This but in badger form
Cast of Characters:
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Phoenyx Metalbranch, Fire Genasi Eldritch Fighter, half-dwarf and loving it
Cody: Arannis Nailo, Elf Cleric of Corellon Larenthian, slightly racist against non-elves
Cait: Amafrey WindRiver, Human Barbarian of the Badger clan, overwhelmed by treasure
NPC: Hunee, Demi-badger, not much different from a giant badger except for the immortality

The characters just gained a level, putting them at level 8. That's a little higher than a group is supposed to be for the Temple of the Crushing Wave, but since there are only three PCs (Hunee acts more like a companion and guide, not really helping in combat a lot), I'm okay with it.

Last time, the group had been approached by a mysterious Tiefling named Vanifer while they were visiting the town of Yartar. She told them she was a high-ranking member of the Cult of Eternal Flame, and if they could bring proof of the defeat of the Cult of the Crushing Wave (that is, the claw-arm of Gar Shatterkeel), she would convince the Fire Cult to leave the Dessarin Valley.

Gar Shatterkeel: come at me, bro!

The heroes were already planning on delving back under the Sumber Hills for their own reasons, and they accepted. Even though they weren't certain if Vanifer was being honest, they ventured down into the Temple of the Crushing Wave. After defeating the gate guards and wiping out a room full of sleeping cultists, they searched around and fought some lizardfolk. Phoenyx accidentally revealed herself to more cultists in the middle of the battle, but she was able to douse her flaming hair and flash the water cult's hand sign to stave off suspicions. However, the fight left the characters badly injured, and they decided to pull back to rest.

While they took their rest (guarded by an awesome spiritual guardian that Arannis conjured), they each had a small character moment. Phoenyx is extremely excited about being back in a dwarven city, even if it is in ruins, and she could barely sit still. When she did finally take a nap, she dreamt of forges and flames. Hunee talked to Amafrey about her gold lust. They realize that Amafrey started her obsession when she bought a Javelin of Lightning from a traveling merchant. Once she knew you could trade gold for lightning, she couldn't get enough of it. Arannis hated being underground, but since they were still near the river, he trailed his fingers in it, happy that at least the water will be seeing daylight soon.

I try to give characters little moments like that to remind them they aren't just murder machines. Although, sometimes it backfires. We don't talk about the Rabbit Incident anymore.
Afterwards, they headed back towards the Temple, in a small boat they took from Rivergard Keep. Just outside the entrance, they found a grisly scene. The cultists who saw Phoenyx last time are hanged by their feet, heads underwater. They've been drowned! The heroes realize they were hung like that and left until their stomach muscles strained and they didn't have the strength to hold their heads up anymore.

Phoenyx, using her bonded handaxe named Agony, began to cut the bodies down. However, the water near the bodies turned black, and four tentacles, each the size of a human, snaked out of the water and began to pull the bodies down into the depths. Arannis blessed the party while Phoenyx and Amafrey began attacking the tentacles.

The world turned upside down... for these guys
For some reason, it seemed like the good dice luck from the last game carried over into this game... in this first combat alone the players rolled 4 criticals and I rolled a Nat 20 on a saving throw. The dice were on fire tonight.

After Phoenyx used Agony to simultaneously cut off a tentacle while also cutting loose a body, the octopus (or as the players called it, Quadropus, since they had relived it of half its appendages) began to flee. Phoenyx burned a couple spells to zap it with lightning and ensure it wouldn't come back for revenge.

The party then had a few options on where to go. There were two canals to follow, a small landing they had explored last time, a gravel beach with some boats on it, and a dark, stinking passageway. Amafrey, with the blood of the quadropus still on her axe, suggested they go murder whatever was in the dark passageway.

Let's be friends!
Creeping into the darkness, they found eight pools on murky water next to some stones with rocks tied to them. Phoenyx was eager to look around and explore as always, but she nearly got jumped by a ghoul hiding in the darkness. More ghouls began to climb out of the dark pools of water. The party was completely surrounded.

However, Arannis began to chuckle. With a high roll on a religion check, he realized that not only was he immune to the ghoul's paralyzing touch, but they were just weak enough to be affected by his Destroy Undead ability. Positioning himself near the center of the fray, he lifted his holy symbol and asked Corellon Larenthian to cleanse the evil in this place. Eight of the ghouls were immediately destroyed! One made its save and a few more were outside the radius of his divine call. The rest were mopped up easily.

The heroes didn't find anything else here, but realized the pools are used for killing people. Phoenyx wanted to burn the ropes, but they are too waterlogged. They got back in their boat and head back towards one of the canals leading north.

As they passed under a bridge carved with a dragon fresco, an ugly green head the size of a pumpkin popped up out of the water and asked what they wanted. The creature pulled itself out of the water and revealed its large, ugly green form. Phoenyx recognized it to be a troll!

They told the troll they were planning to kill everything in the Temple. They tried to play it off that it could then eat all the dead meat, but the troll didn't buy it. It bared its fangs and jumped directly onto their rowboat! Everyone failed a dexterity save and the ship was capsized. Phoenyx gets dunked underwater and her fire hair goes out.
They had to contend with the troll underwater, where it was resistant to fire damage. Arannis and Amafrey tried to attack it directly, while Phoenyx used her Misty Step to get to the top of the bridge. Arannis had a good plan to feed the roll a magical berry he had found and put it to sleep, but he wasn't able to slip it in the creature's mouth.

After taking massive damage, and the troll regenerating out of death, Amafrey and Arannis began to pull back. Fortunately, this gave Phoenyx an opportunity to blast the troll with fire as soon as it left the water. The troll's fatty body immediately caught flame, and it burned away.

Even though this was a tough battle, the good dice luck continued, and we were now up to 8 natural 20's within this single game.

With their boat capsized and floating away into the distance, the heroes had to continue on foot. Arannis used his channel divinity to heal himself and Amafrey, and they drank a couple healing potions as well. There were a few different ways they could go, and while the others healed, Phoenyx looked around and picked a passageway.

The party found a room with strange copper vats and odd backpacks made from cylindrical tanks. Phoenyx inspected the murals on the walls and the vats, and realized that this used to be a brewery long ago. She began to open up the vats as she explained to her friends.

A dwarf city without a brewery? Why, it's like a day without the sun!
Before she can finish, however, a Water Weird jumped out of one of the vats and attacked her! Arannis realized that only a few of the vats are covered in condensation. That includes the one Phoenyx just opened.

The heroes successfully fended off the Water Weird. Phoenyx got drenched in water and her hair went out again. She's lucky we aren't playing with Charmander rules.

The players used their seeker darts from the Temple of Howling Hatred really well this game. Also, the dice didn't stop rolling high. Two more criticals and Amafrey rolled max damage on a seeker dart. That's 16 on 4d4! According to that has a 0.39% chance of happening.

Before the heroes could open the other vats and fight the other water weirds, a door to another room opened. In it stood a man with a ragged beard, an eye patch, and a dagger and a couple vials of liquid tied to his belt. The players could see six Crushing Wave Reavers behind him.
Jeff Bridges as Grumpy Old Murderer, shoulda got the Oscar
Phoenyx reflexively put her hair out and made the sign of the Crushing Wave. The stranger questioned them, and they gave slightly conflicting stories. However, the stranger seemed to buy into their excuses. He said a sea hag working for the cult, named Thaluna Maah, was very upset about her lizardfolk being killed by do-gooders, and that if they are the replacement recruits they need to go "smooth things over" with her.

The heroes played along, even Amafrey decided to back off. The characters needed a short rest. They decided to go along with it rather than provoke another combat.

As they exit, they heard the cultists opening vats and lifting the cylindrical backpacks behind them. The Water Weirds weren't attacking the cultists! Not knowing what to expect, the party headed down the path the stranger told them about until they reached Thaluna Maah.

We decided to end the game there, with the players just about to confront Thaluna Maah. That means our next game is going to start out with combat. I like games that pick up quickly, but I hope the characters can find a place to take a short rest before one or more of them goes down. The players are worried that Thaluna might have troll minions, though fighting trolls out of the water will probably be easier than their last encounter with the regenerating nightmares.

From Hell's Heart I Strike at Thee!
I was worried we might not be able to meet over the holidays, but after the game we worked out a schedule where we can at least get a short game in each week. I have to say, this is the best game I run from a scheduling perspective. We all live near each other, and we can reschedule or find time for a short game without having to contact many people.

My other games are unwieldy and large, or have players who are busy, and it's hard to find time with everyone having jobs and responsibilities. I'm slightly glad that nobody in the group has started having kids yet (most of our players are in their 20's), but when that happens things will get even more difficult.

These logistical problems are definitely going to rear their head when I finish up some of my current campaigns and start up new ones. If you haven't read my other posts, I plan to run Curse of Strahd and probably another game in Garlancia. Though I could easily set the beginning of Curse of Strahd in Garlancia...
Crushing Wave: because WotC didn't want players flashing actual gang signs at each other
Anyway, next time the players will be fighting Thaluna Maah, and might even make it to Gar Shatterkeel himself! Though, I don't know if 10 crits in 2 hours is a feat I will ever see again.

Thanks for reading!

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