Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday Recap: Dwarf Sorcerers

This week's theme is dwarves using magic, obviously
Well, we were going to have a Chaos quest this weekend, but wouldn't you know it, chaos struck. With only three players still able to make the game, I decided to postpone rather than have nearly half the players miss out on the action. Gosh, I can't wait until all my games are optional! It will be so nice.

So, bereft of a story, I did what I always do when people want to play D&D and I don't have anything prepared: I have the players pick a single class, pick a race or two, and let them all build characters using that combination while I throw together an adventure from a random generator. Never fails.

Monday Recap: Dwarf Sorcerers

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Cody: Olthgar Ungardt, Divine Soul Sorcerer of Ulaa, hairy dwarf who sweats constantly and tries to stay positive
Shannon: Nobroserd "Nobro" Fireysunder, Wild Magic Sorcerer, moody dwarf who is surrounded by darkness and foresaw her powers will be used for evil someday
Wes: Ruric Shemash, Green Dragon Sorcerer, scary dwarf who casts magic via flatulence and has an odd obsession with his mother

The adventure began in the halls of Silverhame, deep in the bowels of Strofeuwin. King Hognar Silverstone had summoned these three motley sorcerers together to complete a task of great significance: they were to travel to "the surface" and retrieve a legendary artifact known as the Seal of the Titans for Silverhame. They would also find three staves of great power in the temple housing the Seal, which they were free to take and use as their own.

The sorcerers, Olthgar, Nobro, and Ruric, had never been to the surface before, but of course they had heard rumors. Supposedly it was a magical cavern without walls or a ceiling. The group agreed, and were given an escort of soldiers to take them up to the location of the Seal, the lost Temple of Aemis.

They were also given an annoying and rather inquisitive Chronicler to record their historic journey to the surface. His name was Farnus Inkstone, and he immediately began asking a lot of personal questions to get a feel for the "characters" in his story. Olthgar didn't mind talking about his past, Nobro tried to be evasive but basically told Farnus everything about herself, and Ruric completely deflected the conversation by asking Farnus about his mother.

It took them a few weeks of travel, but with the escort of soldiers, they remained safe from the terrors of the Underdark. They finally emerged from the tunnels only a few minutes walk from the Temple, and were greeted by the sight of the surface.

Olthgar looked up at the sun and thought it was a huge torch someone had hung up on the cavern walls, but looking closer only hurt his eyes. Nobro was overwhelmed by the lack of walls and expanse of open space, and cast some gloomy magic to help herself feel better. Ruric was fully convinced that they would someday find the walls and ceiling, somewhere. They had to exist, after all.

Farnus pulled out a map, and the group made their way across the floor of the surface towards the Temple of Aemis. Fortunately, the trip was brief, since the tunnel they had exited from was nearby. They arrived at the temple, or at least the roof of it. Over time, the temple had sunk into the earth, leaving only its stone roof above the ground.

Olthgar: on a mission from God, maybe
Nobro and Ruric began to search around the building for an upper window or chimney they could use to enter, but Olthgar simply began shooting the ground with magic to try to dig downwards. Surprisingly and unfortunately, this turned out to be the faster endeavor, as Olthgar broke through the ceiling of a cave below them and fell through the hole he had created.

He didn't fall far, but he did land directly onto a massive swarm of poisonous snakes, and was bitten several times by the creatures. The others quickly tied off a rope and lowered themselves down to help fend off the creatures.

Olthgar fired off his divine fire magic, Ruric unleashed sprays of acid, and Nobro shot gouts of fire at the creatures. Farnus, not a combatant, stayed on the surface. Olthgar had been exposed to extra bites and poison, and despite his dwarven resilience, was the frailest of the group. He was nearly ready to succumb to the snakes' attacks when they finally dispersed.

After some much-needed magical healing, they turned to see the true entrance of the temple, surrounded by the natural walls of the cavern they now stood in. Dwarven-built stone pillars flanked a massive archway, leading deeper into the darkened temple. Along the walls were relief carvings of dwarves carrying strange spheres towards the inner part of temple. Farnus was busy writing all of this down, while the sorcerers simply made note of it and strode inward.

The first chamber of the temple was a large room for holding congregations, with continued relief carvings leading towards an altar at the far end of the room. The altar was bare, but a large red glass gem in the shape of a circle was set into the front of it. The floor was littered with scraps of armor from the dwarven denizens long ago.

Nobro began to inspect the walls around the altar, and found a carving featuring a huge pair of hands reaching out of the earth to take once of the circles from a small dwarf. She brought it up to the group, and they realized it was likely the Seal of the Titans that was being offered.

We don't really want to know what Nobro is doing under that armor
As they walked through the room, Olthgar noticed a small vial on the floor containing some preserved red liquid. Knowing that only magic items would keep for so long, he inspected it and discovered it was a health potion. Still a bit injured from the previous encounter, he quickly drank it, feeling the warmth of the healing magic spread through his body.

As he did so, the group began to hear a scraping noise filling the room. The scraps of armor were drawing together, forming ancient guardians of the temple! The group prepared their magic and began to fight!

Unfortunately, the armor was thick and had few defenses, meaning even though they continued to slam the guardians with magic, nothing seemed to work. Meanwhile, the armor kept attacking them, wearing the group down. Olthgar and Nobro started circling the room to try to separate their opponents, Ruric used his magic to climb a pillar and try to remain out of reach of the armor, and Olthgar summoned a flying fish-weapon to distract one of the guardians.

The battle kept dragging on, and the group was really hurting for stamina. They also kept finding more potions on the ground, and they tried appeasing the armor by putting potions on the altar, but nothing worked. Olthgar and Nobro both dropped to their knees in pain at different points in the fight, but they managed to use the potions and Olthgar's magic to regain their composure.

Finally, the last armor was defeated, damaged by so much magical energy that it was unable to maintain its form. The group caught their breath and took stock of the situation. They had used a lot of magic, and were quite exhausted. Fortunately, there were plenty of potions left on the floor, which they gathered and distributed. Farnus creeped out from his hiding place and they moved through another set of archways deeper into the temple.

They cautiously entered a large, round room, set with more red glass gems around the walls. In the center, a inverted dome sat above a dais, where a circular stone etched with runes lay. Olthgar inspected this stone, realizing it was the Seal of the Titans they had sought.

Fire is always a good option
Farnus was quite excited to witness the success of the heroes, and began writing down everything he could see to record the historic moment. Olthgar, however, had a better idea: Farnus should be the one to take the seal. He convinced the hapless chronicler that they were all heroes, and now he could do his part in the epic tale of the retrieval of the Seal.

Farnus was convinced, and reached out to take the seal. As soon as he did, however, he vanished into dust, falling into a small pile on the floor. The sorcerers were unsurprised, since this was supposed to be an artifact used by the Gods, but Ruric was a bit sad about losing Farnus before he got all the details of their trip down.

They had little time to mourn, however, as the inverted down on the ceiling detached itself, revealing it to be a huge mechanical crab guardian! It clambered down from the ceiling, electricity sparking from its mouth and claws, its armor just as thick as the guardians in the previous room.

The dwarves scattered as it blasted them with electricity. Nobro and Olthgar launched spells at it with little effect, but Ruric came up with a better plan. He still had the most stamina remaining of the group, and rushed right up next to the dais holding the Seal. He acted scared to draw the monstrous crab to him, and it ran up and grabbed him with one of its crackling electric claws.

The crab swung down at him with the other claw, attempting to tear Ruric in half. But at the last moment, he ducked, causing the crab's claw to strike the Seal instead of him. In an instant, the crab guardian was vaporized into dust, and the threat was over.

The group cautiously approached the Seal. Knowing it was only meant to be handled by the Gods, Olthgar reached out, hoping his Divine Soul would be enough to save his life.

Fortunately, he was able to pick up the seal. It was a heavy circle of stone, etched with runes around the edge. He decided to try to learn more about it as the group rested, and found that it actually did hold ancient Titans. The Seal held 15 of the creatures, with room for 6 more. Unleashing them would undoubtedly cause widespread destruction. The group thought a bit, and decided that King Hognar Silverstone, or any king, shouldn't have this power. Instead, they decided to take the Three Staves of Power and leave the Temple, traveling through the surface and finding a way to destroy the Seal.

Ruric keeps deadly poisons on hand at all times
Rested up but still exhausted of most of their magic, they entered into the final chamber. It was a rectory filled with stone furniture and decorated with more relief carvings. In the center of the room stood another suit of armor, this one much larger and smoking with some strange black energy. It looked up and told the sorcerers that since they had touched the Seal, they would be eliminated. It attacked!

Nobro used her magic to shrink the armor, making it properly dwarf-sized, and she then leapt on it. Olthgar used the Seal like a shield and barreled into the armor as well, knocking it onto the ground. With the armor prone and held in place, the sorcerers began to attack it as best they could. But with their stronger spells depleted, they could barely scratch the surface of the monster.

Ruric abandoned the assault and ran to the back of the room, where a large relief carving of three staves was set into the wall. He recognized the mechanism built into the wall, and popped the carvings open to reveal the three staves of power, one yellow, one red, and one blue.

Ruric grabbed the yellow staff; Olthgar grabbed the blue one and tossed the red one to Nobro. As soon as it hit her hand, a pulse of magical energy filled the room: in the hands of dwarves, the staves has activated, and their powers could be used.

Ruric used his staff to cause a thunderous blast that stunned the armor, and all three of the dwarves backed away from the armor. They unleashed the fire, ice, and lightning powers of the staves, pouring magical energy into the armor. It was battered and beaten, but still managed to pull itself to its feet.

They pulled back, still firing their magical powers. Olthgar created a dome of ice, Ruric smacked the armor with a lightning strike, and Nobro unleashed a wave of explosions at the creature. But the armor still advanced, striking with darkness-infused blows that were slowly winnowing down the vitality the dwarves had left.

The staves were now depleted of magic, and the armor wasn't dead. It lifted its arm to crush Ruric under its fist, but Nobro drew on the very last reserves on magical energy she had to fire a thunderous orb at the armor, exploding it into dozens of pieces. The temple reverberated with sound, but then fell quiet. Its treasures had been plundered.

The sorcerers made their way out of the temple and back up to the surface. They were surprised to see that someone had moved the torch on the wall, it was much lower and a different color. They shrugged, and began their long trek to find a way to destroy the Seal.

Dwarf Sorcerer just has a certain ring to it
For a session done on the fly, I think it went really well! The players really felt the pressure. I did a lot of mid-combat modifications to make sure they just barely made it out alive, and sure enough, they were nearly out of hit points and completely out of spells by the end of it.

D&D really does its best mechanical work when it's a battle of attrition with heavy combat focus. I'm thinking about starting to try different systems to see if they can accommodate non-combat scenarios better, or make things less of a battle of attrition.

We'll see!

Thanks for reading!

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