Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The Favorites of Selune - Gardmore Abbey - Session 11

[Note 1: Starting from this session I added a new house rule, coming from 13th Age: The escalation dice. At the end of the first round of combat I put a big d6 with the 1 on top onto the battlefield. That gives all players +1 to attack and damage. After round 2 the bonus grows to +2, and so on, until it reaches +6. Monsters get half the bonus. By making it more likely to hit and increasing the damage as combat goes on, combat goes about a round faster, especially when killing the last remaining mobs of a larger battle.]

[Note 2: Somebody actually made a comment on the previous post of this series, being eager to read this next episode. Woot! This series has one fan!]

In the previous session the Favorites of Selune drove away the orcs from Gardmore Abbey by killing their chieftain. This left the village part of the abbey, previously occupied by the orcs, free for exploration. So in this session the group first stationed some of Lord Padraig's mercenaries at the main gate, closing the portcullis, and then followed the wall to the garrison. They had heard from the nymphs the tale of the four paladins sent there during the siege of the abbey to use the Brazier of Silver Fire as a weapon against the invaders. But one of those paladins had fallen in the battle before reaching the garrison, so his sword that was the key to open the chest of the brazier had been lost. As the group had recovered that sword from spiders in the garden, they were now seeking out the garrison, as the brazier was one of the items needed to purify the temple for Sir Oakley.

At the garrison the group was greeted by an apparition, a wraith telling them that they needed the lost sword to enter. Having already found that sword, they only needed to hold it up, and the wraith opened the door for them. Inside were two more wraiths, all of them non-aggressive and quite polite. When asked for their names, they turned out to be the three other paladins who had perished here, waiting for their lost colleague. There were also four statues in the front of the room, three of them holding swords. So the warrior put the lost sword in the hands of the fourth statue. That freed the souls of the paladins, but their wraith forms staid behind and attacked. Furthermore a demon appeared from the back of the garrison, a muscular barlgura.

Having fought wraiths before, the group knew that hitting them with radiant damage would make them more substantial and easier to damage. So the priest used his turn undead which not only did radiant damage, but also pushed the wraiths against the wall. There the wizard pinned them down with a web spell, preventing them from doing much. The group killed the demon first, and then the wraiths. Overall a quite successful combat for the heroes. They then opened the chest with the Brazier of Silver Fire (which had been unlocked with the fourth sword), causing an explosion of radiant damage to demons and undead around it, but that discovery came too late for this combat. So they took the brazier and some other treasure from that chest and went into the nearby wizard tower.

The nymphs had sung for the group the sad balad of the mage Vandomar and his love, the paladin Elaida. Vandomar couldn't protect Elaida during the siege of Gardmore Abbey, and was last seen carrying her corpse into his wizard tower and sealing himself in there. Berrian Velfarren, the leader of the eladrin, had asked them to search the wizard's tower for clues towards the involvement of chaotic forces from the Far Realm in the fall of Gardmore Abbey.

Arriving at the wizard's tower the Favorites of Selune to their surprise found the rival group of adventurers in combat with a pair of gargoyles in front of the door. That led to some discussion whether, and on which side, the heroes should intervene in this fight. But the majority decided to help the rivals, and together they quickly killed the gargoyles. Then the Favorites of Selune demanded of the rival adventurers to leave the wizard tower to them. Grudgingly the rivals agreed, although the evil dwarf cleric of that group clearly wasn't in favor of this peaceful solution.

When the rivals were gone, the group opened the stone portal into the wizard tower. Although they had checked the door for traps and found none, they got hit by a warped magic trap placed behind the door. The unnaturally cold room they saw had 5 of those traps, each covering some area. Apparently it was those traps which were the reason for the orc corpses in the room. In addition there was a big obelisk laying on the ground, with a large humanoid form on top of it, hidden by a drape. With a lot of high rolls the rogue managed to disable all five traps, taking just some damage. Entering the tower the arcane spellcasters of the group felt a strange cold in their brains. While the priest was healing the rogue, the wizard decided to use his mage hand to lift the drape. That awoke the flesh golem under it, who had the head of a beautiful woman, but was otherwise rather monstrous. It also revealed the inscription of "Elaida" on the obelisk.

The flesh golem turned out to be rather tough. In her first attack she hit the rogue twice, and as he still wasn't fully healed he dropped to below 0 health from that double hit. The priest managed to instantly revive the rogue, who then managed to flank the golem together with the warrior. Then the wizard tried to cast a fire spell, and was struck by a curse: All the fire spells he knew were replaced by ice spells instead, against which the golem was resistant. Apparently the golem had powerful magical protection. But while the golem was strong, she was alone (in other circumstances the group might have had to deal with the golem, the gargoyles, and/or the traps at the same time). So the heroes hit the golem with all they had. That included a variety of slowing or immobilizing effects, which prevented the golem from using his strongest attack, which involved movement. So throughout the fight the golem just stood there and exchanged blows with the rogue and the warrior, until a few rounds later she died. With no treasure to loot in sight, we decided to stop here.


Good to see the Favourites back.

And your warrior is starting to hit and be hit- kudos to them!
Glad to see that they didn't choose to go kill the rival team outright. Did either group sense the other was carrying those happy cards though? *Dun dun dunnn!*
Yes, they already sensed that the last time they met. This is already their second direct encounter, and the third encounter if you count the time they only found traces of a fight between the rivals and some monsters.
I might have been tempted to add the new escalation rule as a power picked up from an item or a side-effect of having sufficient cards. That way it is easy to remove if it doesn't work and feels more story driven.
Plus, if the Favourites start to go down the route of slowing combat to give themselves a power advantage you can claim that if the other side also has a card, they will get the full escalation bonus.
What is the point of this escalation rule?

I mean it is obvious that it makes combat (slightly?) faster, but doesn't it devalue armor/defense too much? (although I'm unfamiliar with 4ed, so my understanding of how armor and to-hit works is based on 3.5ed).
The flesh golem had an armor class of 26. If the fight had taken that long, the players would have gone up from a 30% chance to hit him to a 60% to hit him at +6 bonus. Didn't feel like too much.
30% to 60% isn't too much?

Basically more than doubling DPS output (because of additional damage as well).

I'm honestly curious -- I've never played tabletop, but in computer games I've played based on 3.5ed +6 to hit would be ridiculously OP.
I'm here to read your Favourites of Selune as well.... It's been the most consistent campaign I've followed for a while and it appears that you all are having fun.
I always read this column even if I do not post comments. It's harder to have an opinion about someone else's PnP campaign versus posts opining about MMOs. In any case I certainly enjoy reading the D&D posts!
Like others, I always read these posts - consider me a silent fan :)
You have more than one fan, Tobold! Your blog isn't just good reading, it's bang on the money about 4e and the Gardmore module in general.

And in particular your previous interpretation of the spiders encounter in the Outer Gardens enabled me to understand it and believe it to be workable, where repeated readings of the WotC description made it seem just plain broken.

I'm running it in 13th Age, and writing up our own tale here:

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