Such a PITy…
- The group arrive in town, late and exhausted but laden with their delivery of narcotic plants. They meet up with Krimm, who is sleepily watching over the pit, and he directs them to the manor.
- The party are welcomed by servants who recognise them and offer the group refreshments. Soon they are met with a half-asleep, somewhat embarrassed, Salindra who is surprised at how quickly they managed their task. She takes the delivery off their hands and offers them guest rooms in her home and reassures them that they’ll reconvene in the morning at a more appropriate hour, in a more appropriate state of dress. But for now, the party gets some rest.
- A half-elf ranger and his trusty wolf-spider are on a high-priority mission- deliver some rare materials (herbs, plants and reagents) to the Duchess of Woodsrest. It has NOTHING to do with the defacto leader of Woodsholme not liking him very much, or the fact that the man shows her parts of her homeland and past that she wants nothing to do with… or maybe it does. Either way, Dharivol and Scruffy make their way to the town in the north with their package, arriving with the dawn.
- The witness the town starting to stir and find their way near to the duchess’ manor, and also find a dwarven man, nodding off, near a pit. He starts awake when they approach and despite being torn at sending the awkward ranger to his liege and current employer sees no other option. When Dharivol speaks to the man in dwarven he warms up to him much more and let’s him know where he needs to go, and then Krimm is thankfully relieved of his night shift.
- Dharivol finds a warm welcome, differing from the mixed reactions he received from folk in town, and walks into the main area of the manor – to find a small group at breakfast. Here, he meets Weezl, Ziggy and Ramar. The paladin is a bit put off by the spider, to say the least, but it’s Dharivol and Scruffy who are met with a barrage of enthusiasm when Weezl and Imi introduce themselves.
- Food is had and words exchanged – talking about where Dharivol hails from and where the group intend to go next. They have aligned interests with the Untamed Wilds with the ranger seeing the place as his home and the group seeing it as a place for adventure- along with Ziggy’s own interests in finding a particular volcano.
- They quickly share information they have (thanks to me forgetting to hand off a map to Dom before the game… whoops) about the location of a smoking mountain on a map that Dharivol received as thanks for saving another scout (thanks to our little demo game), and Ziggy shows him his own drawing of the ruins, asking if the fellow half-elf knows the location. He does not but he’s the best scout the group could possibly ask for, even if they collectively aren’t sure where to get enough flies to feed Scruffy. The spider has been overly shy this entire time.
- Eventually Salindra joins the group. She thanks the ranger for his service, though she was expecting the delivery earlier, and asks if he wishes to assist in the ritual that everyone else has seemingly been talking about. Dharivol, however, believes there’s to be a spider festival (thanks to misinformation from Eleanor) and is somewhat at a loss. Though, when he agrees, Salindra offers to add a bit more of a magical punch to his bow – though the effect will only be temporary.
- It’s here where the ritual is discussed at length. She details the ointment she needs to concoct that she believes will assist in their senses and self-control (helping to avoid the eldritch being’s madness) which WILL leave them exhausted, the need to keep the skies clear, and the positioning of the other people in the town. The town is being evacuated with the existing guard on duty to protect the townsfolk, the group are all that is there to take on this alien foe. Needless to say, the party is confused at this strange show of trust and self-sufficiency.
- Then there are the braziers- they will create a field that should retain the strange creature and the fires will also be vital in destroying the thing when it is (hopefully) reduced to a fraction of its power. It is vital they remain lit.
- The group go to prepare themselves for the full moon that evening. Weezl helps with the preparations required on the braziers and ritual ingredients- learning a few things along the way. The gets some odd instruction from young Daniira who seems to think that the druid can fix up the enchantments on the braziers, which Weezl learns are a bit “messy.” The incantation is rather broad, and they later learn they are also flawed, but she does manage to shore up that deficiency, at a cost.
- Ramar goes to check up on Krimm and the pit, bringing food and ale, but finds the replacement guard instead and offers him the meal instead- making the young man’s day. And the rest of the day passes rather uneventfully.
*Then… the ritual begins. The duchess, her daughter and Krimm are located far from the ritual area, making sure the weather is controlled and that the incantation for banishing the creature isn’t interrupted. The group have the ointment applied on the eyelids and mind’s eye, and they find themselves focused and able to see into the ethereal plane. Around the pit they see invisible tendrils of force whipping about, like haphazard wind currents.
- The group find themselves feeling quite alone, each taking up a position to protect one of the braziers apiece… and then things begin. The barrel that was holding the being shatters and the “egg” floats up above the pit. It stares at the group before shrouding itself in darkness, roiling tentacles of darkness and shrieks of madness (thankfully muted), and then there is the sickening, sharp tearing sound of reality breaking… and in its’ space is being of shifting mass as dark as the void of space, with the chill of death, and countless eyes and mouths.
- The party are caught off-guard somewhat (low initiative, yo) but still mostly act first. Then, it all goes to shit.
So, naturally, here’s a bit of a summary since I won’t be doing a play-by-play.
- Weezl makes the most of a 4th level Moonbeam, which does some massive damage and causing a volatile reaction with the creature- thankfully everyone is out of range and oddly enough throughout the entirety of the fight not once did it’s violent counteract strike friend or foe alike.
- The group take some potshots but mostly stay in defensive positions… until it acts. It shifts and pulls itself through space to reach Weezl and then drops a shroud of darkness, a screaming, writhing void, on the gnome… and from it emerge 3 Nothics. The single-eyed creatures rush from the darkness to try to destroy the braziers.
- Weezl surrounded by the star spawn and a nothic then does something amazing, Beast Shaping into a Giant Owl and flying straight up and not taking any opportunity attacks. It was the perfect retreat which helped her maintain her Moonbeam spell.
- Then, possibly the most clutch action taken during the fight: Ramar casts Daylight. This destroys the darkness and negates some of the creature’s abilities.
The most amusing thing was Matt asking – is the daylight even effecting this thing? To which I replied “Yes, yes it is.” At the end of the fight what I detailed was this- it negated the shadow it cast as an aura, which can stop movement and cause necrotic damage, and also stopped the creature from using Hunger of Hadar (which was modified), which also meant that the being could not summon reinforcements. Which, isn’t to say the creature was neutralised but it would have been a VERY different fight without that brilliant move. After the session, Matt and everyone was super relieved to hear how much they avoided.
- The rest of the fight was as such: there were rivalries between Ziggy, Ramar and the Nothics. They managed to mess with their braziers and do some damage to the respective PCs and they weren’t having any of it. And, thankfully Dharivol managed to riddle most of the enemies with a Conjured Barrage doing some respectful damage.
- The ranger did draw the ire of the creature after that and was focused on, but he and Scruffy managed to avoid and deal plenty of damage as they fought and protected one another with both fear and zeal.
- Things took a turn for the worst when the creature emitted a piercing, howling shriek, inducing terror… a Mind Break, if you will. All but Scruffy and Ziggy failed, and they were restrained by fear and took psychic damage… enough to knock Weezl from her Giant Owl form, and unfortunately she was in such a state she could not use her parachute emblem… and even more unfortunate is that she was located over the pit, adding 30 feet to her fall. She lands solidly, but soon enough gets out and becomes a Giant Scorpion, ready for round 2.
- Abilities are used with abandon and Dharivol does a stand-up job of going toe-to-toe with this eldritch horror but finally the foe is felled with a Seeking Arrow fired by Ziggy which devastates the being…. shattering it and scattering most of it to the wind. A small shard of pitch black slowly floats to the ground- they have to destroy it.
- Ziggy manages to grab the shard, even as it tries to break his will, he fights off the urges and suggestions it tries to force on him. But when he goes to throw it into the flame (thanks to half of the party trying to carry him to it) it fights back again, filling him with sheer terror, causing him to drop the shard.
- Weezl then manages to grab the shard, dropping her beast form, and slamming the shard into the flames that hungrily jump up to devour it. They do so, burning the abyssal stain to nothingness, sending a shower of radiant sparks in the air.
- And then, there is stillness, and peace, to the extent the party did not realise. In the back of their minds was a creeping tension which is now gone and now they notice that absence. Dharivol and Scruffy celebrate and Ramar fulfils a promise with a nothic, dragging its corpse to a brazier and stuffing it into it, purifying and destroying the creature utterly. He then turns his anger back to his usual friendly disposition, healing himself and the party.
- Salindra joins the party, exhausted and pouring sweat. She thanks the party for everything and apologises that they had to experience something so horrific. The party tell her it’s no problem, it’s like any other day and they saw way worse in the capital. In their words they tell her “They’ve seen much worse” to which Dharivol retorts “WE HAVEN’T. That was the single worst experience of my life!” (Which, admittedly, was goddamn hilarious.) The duchess apologises again and he says she can make up for it by enchanting his bow permanently.
- She then tells the group the can use the guest rooms again to get some rest and she’ll see them in the morning. For now she has to talk to the townsfolk and get them back to their towns.
- Weezl then, inspired, casts Insect Plague for Scruffy instead opting for a cloud of flies to feed the giant spider- who happily accepts. The ranger also manages to get a bag of spider-meal for the effort.
- Then exhaustion hits, near crippling in its intensity and the group naturally go to rest.
- The morning finds them, still tired but more functional than before. They meet up for breakfast and find an exhausted Salindra, she’s somewhat beside herself with exhaustion, but has managed something of a short-notice reward. The gifts the group a package of rare herbs and seeds, and full access to her own gardens; a small satchel of glittering sand from her homeland – Dust of Disappearance, it’s something of a momento but she wants Ziggy to have it; and finally she and Daniira offer up a weird seed with small glyphs carved into it- the seed of an awakened tree (which Ramar says they should name Russel…).
- And the session ends there.
So! We had a bit of a demo session last week making and running Dharivol through a small thing and now he’s into the game proper! I’m really loving the character and Dom is such a great fit for the group, I’m really excited to see what he brings. And, if you’re reading this, sorry that your first “real” fight was one of my stupid boss fights and also eldritch horror. No one signed up for that shit.
Also, I forgot that I have somewhat of a reputation for my boss fights and I have to say it was fun to mess with expectations. There was mention of anime boss battles and multi-stage fights, but hey, it was fun doing all the phases during turn one. I’m honestly really happy with how the entire ritual battle played out. I didn’t even forget that much!
And one more thing, the Hearthshire arc is officially completely finished! It’s so crazy to have nothing huge and scary lined up for that place but I’m so excited to prepare different content for everyone. I will admit, I’m going to miss a lot of those NPCs but they’re not going anywhere (or are they?) Honestly, I’m just really excited to see where the game goes from here, especially with our new addition/s to the cast.
So, what are our intrepid adventurers to do next? Shop for a vineyard? Hunt down cultists? Create the world’s creepiest pet shop? Burn down that apothecary? (Seriously, I’m fucking watching you, Ramar!) … Actually go into the Untamed Fucking Wilds?! FIND OUT NEXT TIME!!!