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And now, the conclusion!

The third session of the three-shot ended this Tuesday, and it had one of the most epic and gut wrenching endings I have experienced in my 9 years of role-playing. At one point I started to sweat a little, and not because of the room temperature…

Cathing up

The second session ended with a not-quite-so invisible fighter, Falafael, and a Druid that couldn’t see because he was currently a bat with terrible eyesight. They had just escaped a room in the dungeon, where they’d been trapped for about 24 hours because of a cave-in.

Prior to the third session, I spoke with Eric, the player of Falafael, because I had regrets about not giving him access to a spell book. His first advanced move was Multiclass Dabbler and he chose the Wizards spellcasting moves. I felt bad for letting him play for an entire session without getting to use those moves because of my mistakes, so we decided to retcon a little. We agreed that he had found a spell book in the caved-in room, where they had beheaded a cultist and taken three others as prisoners.

Behind the scenes

The other cultists knew they were captured in the caved in room, because they hadn’t returned to Threebridges. They could verify this because of their spies in the town. So, now that the meddlesome heroes were out of the way, they kidnapped some townsfolk to sacrifice in an evil ritual to open the prison of their wicked god.

What happened…

Sinathel flew into the next chamber in the caverns, silently using the bat’s echolocation ability to get a rough estimate of how many people were in there. There was a lot of activity in there, and he flew back to Falafael to report. He reverted to elven form, only to discover that Falafael was not invisible, which Falafael was unaware of.

Falafael decided to cast the invisibility spell again and went into the room to spy on the cultists. They were in the midst of a ritual of sorts, chanting around an alter on which a human was bound and gagged and stripped of all clothes, except for a loin cloth. There were three similar victims lying dangerously near to some owlbear cages.

There was a large stone seal, held firmly in place by two statues resembling armored warriors. On the seal was an etching of a large birds skull. One of the cultists was obviously leading the ritual and was now brandishing a large curved blade, about to cut the throat of guy on the alter.

Falafael sneaks back to Sinathel and explains what he has learned, and they immediately run in to stop the foul ritual. Sinathel readies his sling while Falafael sneaks into the room, carrying his axe. One of the cultists is hit in the back of the head by Sinathels pellet, sending him sprawling to the ground. Falafael drops his invisibility and casts a Magic Missile at the cult leader, severely damaging him.

Surprised, the tree other cultists draw their weapons and heads off to kill Sinathel, while their leader heads off to release the owlbears.

Sinathel asks a favor of an earth spirit to crush his enemies, but it demands that he must pay it in kind by returning to it a precious gem, which he will know when he finds it. It then proceed to shape the cavern wall into a giant stony fist, which knocks two cultists into the opposite wall, killing one of them. It then grabs a third and crushes him to death in a symphony of shattering bones.

Falafael tries to stop the leader, but the cultist hit by the sling gets to his feet an tackles him, knocking away his weapon. The leader lets an owlbear loose, which the charges in to maim Falafael. The cultist picks up the axe, to which Falafael responds; “That axe carries the spirit of my father. It cannot hurt me!”. He then turns around to face off with the owlbear.

Amazingly, Falafael was right, the cultist did not succeed at hurting Falafael, even though he hit him twice in the back. In the end, Falafael wrestled the weapon from him and killed him, and in the mean time Sinathel tricked the other remaining cultist into the stone hand, but in the struggle, the cultist snagged Sinathels sling, which was then destroyed alongside the cultist.

Sinathel asked a flame spirit to burn the owlbear and the cultist leader, who in the had gone back to kill the terrified man on the altar. The fire spirit complied but in its desire for destruction, it consumed the body of the victim on the alter. Now burning, the owlbear went into a panicked rage, while the cult leader threw himself back, rolling wildly and ripped off his clothes to escape the fire.

As the man on the alter died, a bluish vapor escaped his mouth and nostrils, which was then pulled into one of the statues. It then let go of the seal on the cavern wall, drew its weapon and then stood dormant to the side of the seal.

Sinathel went to Falafael aid, but was hit square in the back of his head by the owlbear, resulting in a light skull fracture and a concussion. He was flung onto the alter in the process, barely conscious.

The cultist leader got to his feet and leaped at Sinathel with his blade drawn, intent on making Sinathel the final sacrifice. Valorously, Falafael leaped onto the alter, defending his friend from such a vile end. He fought them off, and after awhile Sinathel regained consciousness, and transformed into a mudgoose, and flew out the dungeon.

The owlbear was finally killed by the flames, and Falafael cornered the cultist leader, while standing in between him and the alter. He tried to persuade the cult leader into surrendering, but he tried to flee, unwilling to surrender. Unfortunately, Falafael made an unlucky trip with his axe, which resulted in the cult leader falling onto his own blade, right atop the alter.

He died with a smile on his face, an omen that something had gone terribly wrong. As before, blue vapors escaped the cult leaders mouth and nostrils, and it was pulled into the second statue. The statue let go of the seal, which toppled over, opening up a passageway.

An infernal laughter echoed through the caverns, and tremors were felt throughout the dungeon. Falafael decided to act quickly, freeing the three remaining townsfolk and fled the dungeon. Inside the ruined tower above, Sinathel sat and rested. Falafael tended to his wounds, and told the townsfolk to run back to town.

Clicks and clacking was heard, and both of them stepped out of the ruins, only to see that the tower was reassembling, pulling the stones strewn around the ground into a coherent form, brandishing seven huge stone teeth around the top. As it finished reassembling, a large portal opened at the top, looking like a crack in the air, ripping reality apart.

Falafael fell to his knees, pulling forth his axe and asked for guidance. The spirit of his father stepped out of the weapon, telling him that he must not falter. If the portal was not sealed, doom would befall this world. As the spirit disappeared, demonic entities shaped like humanoid vultures sprung out of the gate.

Sinathel recognized that the portal must have drawn power from the teeth, as he knew of a forbidden druidic ritual, where you drew power from the teeth of slaughtered predators. Falafael cast a spell, forming a telepathic bond between them, and they ran into the now 50 meter high tower, intent on closing the portal at all cost.

The new floor above the armory was merely a huge spiral staircase, running along the walls of the tower. As they climbed the stars, three vulture demons ran down towards them, screaming in an tongue unfit for mortal ears. Sinathel grabbed a large warhammer from the armory and transformed into a crow, intending to destroying the stone teeth at the top, while Falafael would buy him some time by facing off with the demons. He smacked them all out over the staircase in one heavy sweep, and ran to Sinathels side.

A fourth demon was awaiting them and the top, and the three others flew up to help it defend the portal. Sinathel bobbed and weaved to avoid the blows from the demons while trying to smash asunder the stone teeth. Falafael tried to defend him at the same time, but after receiving serious injuries, they switched roles.

One tooth was left standing when a demon tackled Sinathel, throwing them both out over the tower, while Falafael was impaled and killed by the last demon, just as he ripped it in half with his axe, turning it into fire and ash as it died.

As the world darkened, Falafael caught a glimpse of the Black Gates of Death, seeing a giant birdlike demon, also resembling a vulture, encased in a giant crystal. It screamed furiously, calling at its minions to free it. The spirit of Falafaels father appeared beside him, telling him that he was not yet worthy of entering the halls of the great heroes of old. He forced Falafaels spirit back into his pierced body, robbing Death of what was rightfully his.

While plummeting to the ground, Sinathel transformed into a Warrior Eagle, the largest predator bird of the Great Forest, fighting the last demon. The demon hacked and him, striking him with a powerful kick that made Sinathel lose the grasp on the bird spirit. He fell to the ground and broke his left ankle.

The demon came at him once more, and Sinathel went into a deadly melee with it, and murdered it while sustaining a brutal blow. Battered and weak, he climbed the 50 meter tall tower on one foot, leaning to his shillelagh. He saw Falafael lying on the ground, just faintly breathing. He picked up his axe and destroyed the last tooth.

The portal closed, and a foul scream of the purest hatred resounded from the caverns below. The tower started to shake, and Sinathel transformed into the shape of a Warrior Eagle once more. As he did, the tower collapsed underneath him, sending Falafael to his death, but in a fast swoop, Sinathel grabs him by the legs, barely before hitting the ground.

He carried Falafael back to Threebridges, were the returned townsfolk had been alerted the town about the cultists, which had then been captured and thrown in jail. After three days, Falafael awoke from his coma, and the villagers praised them as heroes, throwing a celebration in their honor.

This is the third and last session of the “The Rise of Ri’leth” adventure. The write up for the first session can be found here, and the write up for the second session can be found here.

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The Rise of Ri’leth

The session ended yesterday with a bang, and since the story was concluded, I’ll post my fronts here as promised, along with a nifty monster I made that the players luckily avoided.

Adventure Front: The Rise of Ri’leth

A mysterious cult is attempting to free their long forgotten god from his eternal prison.

Cast

  • Dunstan, the mayor of Threebridges
  • Madwich, the cult leader
  • Ri’leth, the vulture demon prince

Stakes

  • Can Ri’leth be permanently banished?
  • What did Olive, the mayors daughter, find out that got her killed?

Danger: The Cult of Ri’leth

Impulse: To free their god
Grim Portents

  • Madwich creates more abominations
  • The cult prepares the ritual
  • Human sacrifices are made

Impending Doom: The prison is opened.

Danger: Ri’leth, the vulture demon prince

Impulse: To escape his prison
Grim Portents

  • An otherworldly portal opens
  • Demons spill through
  • The seal is broken>/li>

Impending Doom: Ri’leth is let loose upon the world once more.

Comments on the front

The trouble with publishing fronts is that they are filled with innuendo. My players would probably understand almost everything I’ve written above, but an “outsider” would probably not understand the meaning of a lot of it.

“The seal is broken” made sense in the fiction (and I’m pretty sure that my players are aware that it happened), but it doesn’t make much sense out of context. I’ll make a session report later. Hopefully it will make the intend behind most of it clear.

Ri’leth, the Demon Prince

This is the stats on Ri’leth. I made them in case he’d escape, which luckily didn’t happen. His moves are evil, one of them horribly detrimental, and he just has a lot of those nasty tags.

Instead of fumbling around with HTML code, I’ll just post a link to the Dungeon World Codex entry: Ri’leth, the Demon Prince of Chaos!

The game that went bad…

… in-game, luckily. Last session was a blast, even though everything went to hell and back again. As you might know, I prepared a front for the game, even though it contributed little to the player’s experience, since everything and it’s mother went against the players!

It was glorious. First thing first; the players got back to Threebridges, and told the mayor, Dunstan, what they have learned. They decide to camp outside the city to escape notice from the cultist infiltrators.

They leveled up during downtime, Falafael bought multiclass dabbler and got Wizard Spellcasting, and Sinathel grabbed elemental mastery.

They went to the inn to hire some additional hands. This is where everything went bonkers; Sinathel aided Falafael, when rolling for recruitment, as per the move. Both rolled a miss. Trouble is brewing…

So, as they walk around trying to hire some help, Dunstan the mayor comes in, demanding they take him with them. Even though he wants revenge for the murder of his daughter, they dismiss him. He’s fuming at this point, so a friendly soul comes along, taps him on the shoulder and tells him to go home. Meet Rudiger, a villager who wish to tag along.

The player’s didn’t exactly say what they were setting out to do, only that they “are going south to explore some dangerous ruins”. This is a lie of course, they wanted to avoid attracting the attention of the cultists infiltrating the city. They accept Rudiger’s help, but they are mistrustful, since he seemingly popped out of nowhere.

The travel south out the city. After walking for about 20 minutes they reach a forest area, and the begin travelling north, in a wide arc around the city, heading for the tower in the swamps. They fill Rudiger in on what they’re doing, carefully studying him to test if he’s really as unknowing as he acts. Another miss. Perfect! I just told them that he looked really surprised.

Sinathel transform into a sparrowhawk, flying back to see if they are followed. He doesn’t spot anyone, so he flies toward the tower to see if the cultists have made preparations. They didn’t doubt they had noticed the bodies they left behind.

As Sinathel is away, Falafael is alone with Rudiger. After a few minutes they are attacked by an owlbear in the woods, and Rudiger seemed to give it orders to kill Falafael, who had now drawn his bow. Falafael placed an arrow firmly in the thigh of Rudiger, and escaped the owlbear, loosing it in the swamp.

I the meantime, Sinathel had entered the tower and were currently fighting for his life. As he fought some of the cultists, Falafael arrives and helps him out. Sinathel uses elemental mastery to make some stone explode in a shower of molten lava, killing one of the cultists. The lava flows down the stairs, nearly claiming the life of Falafael, but he evades.

They were inevitably captured by the cultists though, and were led down into the caverns below, stripped of their weapons, except for a concealed dagger, hidden up Falafael’s sleeve. They are tied up, and one of the cultists is put on watch, while the other is going for help. Needless to say, the cultist is killed by a 600 pound bear… They reclaim their gear and carries on.

They escape, but in the darkness they are attacked by an owlbear. Sinathel decides to use elemental mastery again, trying to form stalagmites to skewer the owlbear. This time he misses, so instead everything goes out of control; he instead causes a cave in, killing the owlbear, but blocking their way back.

In the room they are forced into, some cultists have taken up arms, only clad in undergarments. This was a sleeping quarter of sorts. They defeated the cultists, beheading one and subduing the rest. They bound them and made camp, getting a rest to escape the horrors of a remaining 5 hp each…

They woke up and forced three of the cultists to dig their way through the cave in. It took well over half a day, but they eventually made a hole big enough for two scrawny elves to climb through. They knocked the cultists out and tied them up again.

As they search the owlbear, Falafael claimed some of its feathers, as they could be used as a temporary supply of arcane ingredients. He uses them to cast an invisibility spell on himself while Sinathel changes shape into a bat with poor eyesight. And guess what; another miss!

Basically, this is where the session ended; the Fighter running around, thinking he’s invisible, and the druid can’t tell him he’s not, because he can’t actually see him anyway. Hooray! They’re gonna die next session…

We laughed so hard during this session, because every time they made rolls, everything went from bad to worse. It was so freaking hilarious.

As you know, I made a front after the first session. I want to stay true to my prep, but I’m afraid that their current condition will kill them, the fighter thinking he’s invisible and all that. I know what’s in the next room, and it’s not pretty. Luckily for them, they know something’s in there. The druid spent a hold to use his awesome powers of echolocation to get an idea of how many people were in the next room. I just told them “a lot”. Hopefully, this gives them a clue to be cautious…

This was the second session of the “The Rise of Ri’leth” adventure. The write up for the first session can be found here, and the write up for the third session can be found here.

New land, ahoy!

OK, so it was a long time since my last post. I had some trouble finding a group, but it seems this problem diminished somewhat, thanks to the wonders of Roll20.net and Google Hangouts. Will definitely host further one-shots using these tools in the future.

I played a one-shot session last Thursday with two complete strangers, the French guy Eric and the Belgian Bastien. I have actually never GM’ed for a group, where everyone was a stranger to me, so that was a bit daunting.

It went extremely well, even though I came to the “table” with absolutely no prep at all. All I came with was an idea that I’d like to run something about airships, because that just sounded awesome in my head. It didn’t happen though, but I’ll never admit to being sorry about it.

The session was a complete success in my book. In fact, it might just be the best session I ever GM’ed.

We started as any game should; make and present characters. This is where my plans for airship battles flew out the window, pun intended. I never even got to mention airships, before the players were knee deep in back-story about how their characters met.

I could have forced it a bit and asked; “So, how did you guys come to possess an airship?” I decided not to, because I really wanted to see where they’d go with this short description of their time together. So instead I asked; “So, you’ve been travelling together for some months, it seems. Where are you now?” Play to find out what happens

The elvish druid started adventuring because something that “smelled wrong” in his homeland and was thus compelled to seek it out. The fighter, who was also an elf, had a more mundane reason to travel, merely exploring human lands for the thrill of it.

I made moves whenever the players looked to me to see what happens. This started when we had established, where they were, or rather when the players had. They were currently in the village of Threebridges, a town with a population mainly consisting of halflings and a few humans.

As they woke up, and had breakfast (well, the fighter had, the druid lives on universe juice), they were hearing people gathering outside, shouting. A halfling girl had been murdered! This was my first move. They start investigating, rolling a miss on a Discern Realities roll. I decided that putting them in danger was kind of inappropriate, so I used my move to show signs of an approaching threath by telling them that her body was torn in half.

They spoke with some guards, and found out it was the Dunstan the mayors daughter, as by queue from an out-of-character remark that she was probably the daughter of someone important. I went with that, it worked for me. They talked to her sobbing father, and pledged to help this village. The fighter went to the girl’s room in the mayors house to investigate, while the druid decided to hang around town to look for clues.

Both rolled a miss on Discern Realities. I asked both of them what that meant. One of them got the idea that there was a conspiracy, people making a special beak-like hand-gestures to each other, while clearly faking sympathy in conversations about Dunstan and his daughter Olive. Eric, who played the fighter took this up a notch by finding a a blackmail letter. It said something about the lines of “Meet us at town square by midnight, or we’ll murder your family.” This was actually a great way of escalating the situation. Powerful monsters and a conspiracy? Heck yeah!

The druid went to speak with some bats that lived under the inn. They told him of three to four great beasts, three times the size of a bear, who entered the village at night and killed the girl. The fighter went to investigate, there must have been traces of such beasts. A partial success on a Discern Realities gave him the chance to ask “What should I be on the lookout for?”. I was a bit torn between answering either werewolves or owlbears. I chose the latter. They’re so fluffy!

So, in about an hour of investigation an entire plot had been revealed, and nothing was prepared in advance. In fact, I find it hard to take credit for much of it, since most of it was invented by the players, but I’m perfectly fine with that, I’d have it no other way.

The plot thickened; we had a fight with some cultists. They captured one and questioned him. They learned that about 10 cultists had been infiltrating the village, while the rest of the cult remained under the ruined tower where they had the fight. Also, they worshiped a demon-god, whose symbol was a bird’s skull, and the cult leader was experimenting on animals to shape their form into the image of his god.

I’d like to pause an reflect on how everything fitted together. The druid looking for the “wrong smell”, which turned out to be abominable experiments on animals. The beak-like hand-gestures fitted perfectly with a cult worshiping a demon-god with a bird’s skull as his symbol. Owlbears, a monster with the head of an owl and the body of a bear. Everything just ended up fitting so damn well!

The party decided an entire cult might be too much to deal with, so they returned to town and informed Dunstan. Their plan was to look for some extra hands to clean out the rest of the cult. In game-terms; they wanted to recruit some hirelings.

This was where the session ended. It was incredibly fun, and we decided to plan for an additional session, so we could finish the adventure. We also decided that this was a great point for introducing new players, if we could find willing souls.

This was the first session of the “The Rise of Ri’leth” adventure. The write up for the second session can be found here.