Trigger Warnings: Spoilers, deliberate altering of the published campaign, PC’s acting badly, witches with pointed hats.
Before I start, I’d like to announce the brand name for the campaign world I’m making. After some E-Mail with Ivan, an old friend of mine, I decided on the name of ÆTHERCOIL. Yes with the A and E together to show I’m not fooling around.
Logo to come.
This week’s session was a bit slow, since it took place between delves in the Temple of the Elements. There were a couple surface world reprisals and an encounter, the first being reports of Earth Cultists about to nuke Red Larch with an Orb of Devastation, a supposedly random Earthquake, and an attack by Air Cultists. The party is then led to a side quest in Westbridge to deal with a Black Earth mini-prophet selling some particularly lulzy old time religion to the desperate people there.
Bill: What do you have that’s gonna stop us from stopping you?
DM: With that the prophet snaps his fingers, and the whole side of an inn gives way, revealing a Hill Giant that was inside at the time, hearing all that.
Bill: Good Answer.
Needless to say that the game’s action will return next session.
Two points that happened in the meantime. One of my pet peeves as a DM is people who read the module I’m working on and using it as a walk through. Almost required in some console games, but an irritation in Tabletop, so I make an effort to alter some details in the published campaign. One of them is my concept of persistence, where actions of previous campaigns—even those the current table haven’t been in—carry over to current campaigns. I had a Baldur’s Gate in a rebuilding time because of my first DMing campaign, and some aftereffects of Hoard of the Dragon Queen are carrying over to my Play by Post work. (Reminder to myself, finish that Masks and Mythos recap!)
But if that isn’t enough to throw players out of their walkthrough, I can always make replacement characters, which is what I did with the Helm at Highsun in Red Larch. First off, I’m not using the version from the module: I got my hand on Volo’s Guide to the North and used that as an additional source: Here’s the entry on The Helm at Highsun, Page 81 in this book:
THE HELM AT HIGHSUN
The Helm is a dim, quiet place, frequented by caravan guards, adventurers, retired folk, single folk who want to be alone, and merchants who want to relax. “No one bothers you in the Helm,” they say. This motto is enforced by a silent, attentive, and menacing helmed horror. It’s an empty, animated suit of armor that serves as waiter, usher, bouncer, and sometimes, cloak rack. The horror is known as Araldyk, and it is under the mental control of the Helm’s owner, a mage named Yather Indaglol. Most patrons of the Helm have never seen Yather. He keeps to his locked chambers, which he shares with a pseudo-dragon familiar. He runs the tavern using wizard eye spells, a speaking-tube, and a staff of a dozen skilled workers.
Since the Volo Guides take place in 2nd Edition, I needed to have some changes to denote the time change. With the Helm of Highsun, it was easy for me to have Yather take up an apprentice, someone who will learn Yather’s magic as well as manage the tavern. That also makes me return to one of my favorite character themes, female magic users in witches gowns and pointy hats.
Meet Meriele Amblecrown, the current manager of the Helm of Highsun. She doesn’t go out much, although she isn’t as much of a recluse (Can I call Yather a Faerun version of a Hikkikomori? He has the traits) and when she does go out of her tower, it’s for a good reason.
Like neutralizing the Orb of Devastation that the Earth Cultists placed in Red Larch, saving the villagers and gaining her at least one paramour in waiting. You’ll be seeing more of Meriele in future scenes in Red Larch.
Also of interest is what’s going to be the start of the major battle on the table, between myself and Chase, who has a very OP Half-Orc Barbarian-slash-Favored Soul. An Half-Orc who’s now showing his roots by intimidating one of the fallen Air Cultists and hiding him in an underground cell of his own making. Dick Move trademark, Chase. I’m going to have to throw up a surprise or for you.
The jury’s still out over where they’ll return to the Temple. Black Earth is more worked over, but there is also the possibility for two more entry points: The Wind Cult entry, with the Sighing Valley, and the Fire Cult entry with Scarlet Moon Hall. Chase showed some interest in the Fire Element, so this is where I might make things rough for him.
Before I go to the next session, I’m going to have to make an isometric layout of the Temple floors.