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Author Topic: Living Forgotten Realms -- Masquerade at House Phil'ozza  (Read 332 times)

Abyssal Maw

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Living Forgotten Realms -- Masquerade at House Phil'ozza
« on: March 17, 2010, 12:14:01 pm »
This is a recap of the LFR (MyRealms) adventure I ran last night:

(This is actually the 4th adventure in the Drow group I have run. I haven't recapped every adventure, and since the groups are different (with some overlap) the adventures are not "instanced". )

Lady Cyntelle (female drow cleric)
Teb'bryn (male drow assassin)
Dra'vanna (female drow warlord and slaver)
Bjorkus (enslaved minotaur fighter)
...and the new PC
Grudge (revenant drow fighter)

We introduced a new player (and character), so there was a bit of a recap at the start where we worked out exactly where the new Revenant Fighter, Grudge, was from. We talked about a couple of possible origins (a group of PCs had broken into a ruined temple of the forgotten drow goddess Kiaransalee in the 2nd adventure, so he could have come from there, and there was a visiting vampire lord to the Drow House who brought a retinue of guards.. it was decided that Grudge was one of the undead guards).

SO Grudge turns out to have been one of Lord Shiver (the vampire)'s retinue of guards.

We started out with local rumors- I sort of went around the table:

Grudge had very little idea of local rumors (streetwise check was low!) in the Drow house- he didn't speak elven, and although the drow were exceedingly accomodating to Shiver and his guards, they mostly left them alone. However, he did know this: Shiver had received an invitation to the annual ball at House Phil'ozza and it was a cause for some controversy. This was the first year that the other notable members of House Rilyntel were not invited.

OOC: The reasons for this is that Rilyntel is on the verge of being exiled- they have defied the will of Rilyntel's queen by not taking part in an important sacrifice, and a rival house is already planning on using the opportunity to purge them.

So Shiver summons his bodyguards and selects Grudge (the new PC) and Grieve (an NPC) to accompany him for a special mission.

Next up was Lady Cyntelle; of course all of the priestesses were aware that the house was being snubbed this year, but she had more important things to take care of. In one of the previous adventures, she had intercepted an encrypted letter (treachery!) from a rival priestess to House Veltran.. and had convinced the assassin Teb'bryn (who was on his way to becoming her protege) to forge a new version of it that would lead part of Veltran's invaders into an ambush. Then, she had ordered the assassination of Veltran's spymaster.

The assassination by this time was carried out (in the last adventure) but there were complications- they had to kill a servant, and the Spymistress' own guard- a slaver named Aethl'yss had tracked Tebbryn's group down as they were dumping the bodies in the slums of T'Lindhet. Caught red-handed (and attacked) they had no choice but to fight- and in the end Aethl'yss and his retainers were also killed and thrown into a pool of acid. Teb'bryn sufferd a grievous wound (critted with an orc's greataxe) but limped his group back to the safety of Rilyntel's complex.

Teb'bryn made his report. Complication: Aethl'yss had been carrying on a relationship with Dra'vanna. Lady Cyntelle advised they keep that part quiet. In the meantime, she had become  suspicious of her rival priestess' cultivation of a thief named Livatro. Teb'bryn took it upon himself to keep an eye on the thief, and shadowed him around. He soon found out that Livatro was shadowing him, or attempting to. Teb'bryn held the advantage in matters of stealth.  

(Note: Livatro is another PC, but not one present in this game).

Teb'bryn had a very good ear for gossip and rumors (high steetwise check!) and knew several things: Rilyntel was likely going to be attacked...and soon.  He also had heard about a certain prisoner being smuggled in to Rilyntel in the dead of night (around the same time as he returned from the assassination).

Cyntelle and Tebbryn were summoned for a special mission at this point (going the same place where Shiver was)...

As for Dra'vanna- she was meant to meet up with Aethl'yss (assassinated in a previous game) and so she showed up at the isolated fungus garden away from both Veltran and Rilyntel.. (in the players words.. "to fight or make out or both..) and Aethl'yss never showed up. He was slowly dissolving in an acid pool a few miles away. Dravanna was aware of being snubbed by House Philozza but didn't care. Only the priestesses concerned themselves with petty social affairs.

Disappointed, she returned to take it on her slaves (including Bjorkus, the minotaur).

Bjorkus had  a very high streetwise roll (so he got to hear all of the rumors) AND he was connected to the slave network of rumors- he heard about the mysterious prisoner as well as one nobody else had heard about: a certain goblin servant and her children had been taken away to the Matron's chambers a few hours earlier.

So this was the roleplay that took up the opening stretches of the game.

When they arrived, the Matron was there, threatening the goblin babies in front of the new prisoner- a servant from House Phil'ozza. The goblin servant (who was the father of the two babies of the servant of House Rilyntel- perhaps that wasn't clear) was intimidated into sabotaging one of the two ballrooms of House Phil'ozza (flooding it with acid from Phil'ozza's alchemical warehouse), which would force the Masquerade party to take place in a ballroom adjacent to the main Phil'ozza complex. "Please don't hurt my babies!"

This just happened to adjoin a secret passage to a hidden level beneath House Phil'ozza where their Oraculum- a scrying chamber-- was located. Shiver knew where the secret passage was, and he provided a general description of the Oraculum lens he hoped to steal.

Since he was the only "official" invitee, the rest of the party members would be taking on disguises (it was a masquerade after all)- as his undead retinue, and join him at the party. At some point, they would break off from the festivities, locate the secret passage, and steal the Oraculum right from House Phil'ozza.

So they made preparations. Dra'vanna started by buying some low-grade poison, and a disguise kit was provided. Tebbryn had the highest bluff so he put together everyone's disguises. Grudge only needed the barest disguise (he was already undead, so he didn't have to change much). The rest of the group would have a much harder time. They also provided one scroll of "Disguise Self" to the only ritual caster in the group- Lady Cyntelle.

The group decided that the scroll might be best if used in reserve.. ie- Cyntelle would wear a mundane disguise, but if caught (or someone else was) they could use the scroll to facilitate an escape.

So the very first roll on the skill challenge was Tebbryns use of disguises, which he aced. And the party went around the table to describe what their costumes were: essentially they each had two costumes- they had to be disguised as undead, AND had to be wearing a costume for the masquerade.

... To be continued!

...more later, including what happened at the party, (the skill challenge!) and so on...
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 03:09:45 pm by Abyssal Maw »
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Abyssal Maw

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Living Forgotten Realms -- Masquerade at House Phil'ozza
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2010, 12:53:37 pm »
PT II (still the same game)

The got into disguises and headed to the Masquerade ball. The goblin had done his job and flooded the outer ballroom, which moved everyone to the inner ballroom.

So the group is in there and mingling, and trying to pick out rumors. Tebbryn is dressed as a mind flayer, Lady Cyntelle has a chef's outfit. Dravanna is an Eladrin courtier (she dressed as a man), Bjorkus is dressed as an undead minotaur in an unruly gown (he kinda had the suckiest disguise). Grudge didn't bother much with a disguise- merely wearing a formal outfit and a domino mask.

At one point, one of the busybodies from House Veltran approached the group in a crowd of partiers-- while the rest of the group tried to slip away, Grudge ran interference, bumping everyone.

Cyntelle got separated out from the group. Dravanna slipped into the kitchen and poisoned some wine, which soon caused a disturbance as one of the priestesses got violently ill.

While Bjorkus added to the confusion by trying to establish order "by yelling a lot and being pushy"..

(so this was kind of a skill challenge in action- Cyntelle had failed a roll here, and Dravanna had as well)

Meanwhile Tebbryn ducked over and found the secret passage. During the confusion, one by one, they all made it into the disused servants corridor, and then into the under-complex of Phil'ozza. .

After getting their bearings- they opened the door that led into the area where the Oraculum was meant to be- but at this point there was no map. Above, Shiver (and Grieve) would be assumed to run interference for them, and the masquerade ball was in full swing.

Down below, they searched. After traversing a series of corridors, they ran across a hallway full of alcoves- and 4 strangely articulated statues.. two of them in shambles.

Just as Tebbryn was examining them, a porticullis gate slammed down, trapping them, and the two remaining statues animated.

OOC: The monster here was identical to the Elite Animated Statue that originally appeared in Into the Shadowhaunt

Animated Statue

Medium natural animate (construct) || Level 2 Elite Brute XP: 250
Initiative +2  Perception +1; darkvision
HP 86; Bloodied 43
AC 17; Fortitude 16, Reflex 12, Will 14
Resist charm, fear, poison, sleep
Saving Throws +2
Speed 4
Action Points 1

Smashing Fist (standard, at-will)

+5 vs AC; 2d6+3 damage.

Knockdown Fist (standard, at-will)

+3 vs Fortitude; 2d6+3 and knock prone.

Kick them when they're Down (free)

When adjacent to a prone enemy at the end of its turn, the Animated Statue may make a smashing fist attack against that enemy

Keep em' Down (immediate reaction)

When an adjacent enemy attempts to stand, make a Smashing Fist against that foe. On hit, the target stays prone and its turn ends.

This was an even fight, but it ended with Grudge badly bloodied (at one point he was knocked prone, and each time he would try to get up the statue would pound him back down to the ground). Bjorkus fared very well by grappling and brawling with the statues. Tebbryn and Lady Cyntelle both took some minor wounds.

In the end, the statues were left in piles of rubble and twisted metal. They also found out one thing: getting bloodied meant your costume was ruined. For Grudge- this wasn't much of a concern, but for the rest of the group- they would have to start thinking about bluffing their way out of the party once they got what they came for.

After the battle, Bjorkus and Grudge lifted the gates, and Bjorkus bent the metal on the dropping part of the gate so it wouldn't catch them unaware again.

(to be continued! There's more than this, and they aren't even through the skill challenge yet...)
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Abyssal Maw

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Living Forgotten Realms -- Masquerade at House Phil'ozza
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2010, 02:56:18 pm »
So by this time, the group is well away from the party upstairs, and they've figured out that the other corridors lead back towards a series of dungeons and prisons (and an armory) they aren't going to want to see. They have wrecked the animated sentries outside the oraculum. At this point they've reached six successes and 2 failures on the skill challenge.

This is almost the equivalent of "Two outs and bases loaded.." in D&D4 terms. They needed 8 successes - and if they got three failures, it just means that they leave behind enough clues that they easily identify their House affiliation once Phil'ozza discoveres they have been robbed.

There were two final additional barrier to the Oraculum itself- a shifting maze of shadows. Getting lost in the shadow-maze would keep the characters busy long enough for more sentries to find them. Luckily, Lady Cyntelle had a strong sense of Insight- the maze was alive- a shifting magical thing, that reacted to the psychic impressions of the people inside.

"Let Lolth guide the way.."

And they made their way through the maze without a problem...

Finally they reached a vertical shaft with a round door at the bottom- locked with a single inset lock. Hundreds of keys- each with a different description and size and shape--  were suspended magically in the shaft.
The trick here is that only one key is real- the "fakes" are infused with arcane energy and damage anyone who chooses incorrectly.

At this point- seven successes and 2 failure- they really were bases loaded.

Tebbryn and Cyntelle studied the final room for a while- Bjorkus, Grudge and Dra'vanna stood guard. They figured out that it could be very dangerous what they were attempting.

Tebbryn eventually opted to slip down the shaft and just try lockpicking the door- which was just as dangerous as picking the wrong key, but as he said "I only have to get it wrong once..". In fact, lockpicking was at a much higher DC than simply choosing the key, which he realized.. but he also had better confidence as a lockpicker than a key-chooser.

Tebbryn laid out his tools and selected the ones he would need. He rolled successful, the door swung open, into a new passage.

The keys hung there.

The rest of the group climbed down, and made their way down a final corridor to the Oraculum. I had already rolled the stealth checks of a pair of guard drakes and a purple dragon wyrmling that were hiding down there, but I will save that battle for next post.

(to be continued, the session was still ongoing, I'm trying to provide details of everything that happened).
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Abyssal Maw

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Living Forgotten Realms -- Masquerade at House Phil'ozza
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2010, 07:50:55 am »
Ok, so the final battle- they made their way down the final corridor, and unfortunately (or fortunately) I had pre-rolled some stealth checks for my monsters- a pair of guard drakes and a purple dragon wyrmling. And they were insanely high.

The room itself was constructed like Jeremy Bentham's panopticon- the idea was there was a large semi-circular dome-shaped room with a series of mirrors on the curved part of the walls. In the center of the room was an elaborate device that contained a series of interlocking gears and (most importantly) a magical lens. Cranking the mechanism into position, and the lense could be attuned to scry on someplace, projecting it against one of the mirrors.

The corridor leading to the room had stairs down along both sides that descended 10' into the domed chamber, with an unrailed ledge in between them. This became important later- it was an improvised detail, and if I had been thinking ahead, I might have done a bit more with it.

So Bjorkus (the minotar) and Grudge (the revenant) descended the steps carefully ahead of the rest of the group.. and that's when the guard drakes struck. They had each of the fighters isolated at this point, and they had the drop on them.

As the rest oif the group moved up to help, then the purple dragon wyrmling uncoiled from it's hidden position at the base of the central mechanism, and flanked the minotaur.

This was a cool battle, because alone, guard drakes do a certain amount of damage- but within a certain amount of distance from an ally.. their damage raises dramatically. So the strategy is often "keep them separated.." but when the purple dragon struck midway through the next round, nobody was expecting it.

So the group chose to try and keep them separated anyhow- as best they could.. Grudge locked up the one guard drake in single combat (good thing he was a fighter and could makr) while the rest of the group focused on the drake and the wyrmling that were able to flank.

Another cool thing about this battle was the purple dragons breath weapon was pure negative energy- psychic damage, and I managed to catch a group of Tebbryn, Cyntelle, Dravanaa, and Bjorkus at one point. Although most of them shrugged it off, Dravanna was badly affected and ended up stepping blindly off of the 10' ledge in between the staircases. A second breath weapon after the recharge hit Bjorkus and the dragon seized the opportunity to psychically dominate the minotaur-- and send it charging off against Lady Cyntelle (where he hit but soon regained control of himself).

After a few rounds the guard drakes were slain, and the purple wyrmling eventually dropped as well. Tebbryn got his tools out and retrieved the lens. Currently it was showing the tower of Archmagister Bhaenghul in Alura R'teyn (foreshadowing for a future adventure). After they got the lens out, they slipped it into a bag. Then Bjorkus took it upon himself to destroy the apparatus. The rest of the group joined in, smashing the mirrors.. behind one mirror they located a small trove of gold.

Everyone in the group had been bloodied by this time except for Lady Cyntelle. Which meant that their costumes were ruined. Tebbryn still had the disguise kit and made some temporary repairs where he could- but they would have to be leaving the party quickly.

On the way back, Dravanna came up with a ruse to kidnap a goblin servant, kill him and pretend that her "undead" impulses had gotten the better of her (to explain the blood stains). (to account for the ripped outfit..) Tebbryn gave his costume to another party member- he would rely on stealth.

They snuck out as best they could, killing the one goblin witness. Cyntelle and Grudge went and got Shiver and they all graciously left the party as quickly as they could (we also had improvised a funny scene where the Matron of Philozza kept trying to get Shiver alone at the party, and at one point Bjorkus came up while they were alone in the outer garden and was going to try and snap her neck to cover their escape.. but Shiver waved him off).  

So they got the heck out, Tebbryn handed over the lens, and Shiver gave them his thanks. And that was kind of the end of the adventure.
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