Sunday, November 2, 2014

Limbo-ing with the Modron

After the summer long hiatus, Plane-atary Express is back! This break was both in game and out of game, so the characters were still gaining experience and wealth but we weren't "paying attention" to them. Now we're back and everyone has new (useful) trinkets and magic items! The reasons for both are up to the players to decide and tell the rest of the party over the course of adventure.

The session started off with all the players choosing their items, remembering the 2nd edition rules, and getting into character.

The party, along with their two subordinate teams, were meeting in the Plane-atary Express offices when a loud knocking on the door was heard. On the other side was the unlikely pair of a githzerai monk and an absolutely crazy looking homeless man. Turns out that the homeless man was Factol Karan, "leader" of the Xaiosect. Karan takes great pains to tell the party that he brought the monk, Haeronimil, as a favor to to the plane of Limbo. At this point Haeronimil interrupted and said that he was interested in hiring the party, and all their teams, to help the modron cross Limbo successfully. After some long negotiations, the party said "yes" and off they went.

The journey started at the boarder between Ysgard and Limbo, on one of the branches of Yggdrasil the World Ash. There, the modron had assembled while the githzerai attempted to break them apart into different groups.

The party found their group of modrons, and after convincing an octon that it was most logical to let the party lead them through the roiling chaos, they set off on their long journey.

Stepping into Limbo, Nearin took the lead on manifesting the terrain for everyone to travel on. After a few hours, the party was attacked by red slaad which swooped in over the pack of modrons. The red slaads were a pain in the ass for the players. They stun, gate in more slaad, and sometimes deposit eggs when they hit something. The combat took a long time, but through clever use of shaping the chaos of Limbo and some help from a pentadrone the party was able to route the slaad and keep safe. Bobby has eggs deposited in her now though.

After passing through a giant whirlpool of chaos, the party was then attacked again by slaad. This time blue ones. The combat was a lot faster than the first, with the players having learned a lot of tricks from the combat. And this time there were no eggs deposited!

This was most of the Law in Chaos from the Great Modron March.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ambient environments and weather for Numenera

Numenera presents a nice opportunity to create some really weird weather or ambient environmental moments. A basic encounters like "a deer stands in the middle of a field of wildflowers" just doesn't cut it in the Ninth World. Below is a random table of possible ambient scenes to act as a tool or jumping off point for future ideas.

1d6 Ambient encounter
1 Large round black drones slowly meander across the sky in a small pack. Every so often, they all stop in formation and extend four large arms from their middle. Fresh, untainted water rains down. After an hour or so, the drones retract their arms and fly away again.
2 A huge, red flowing manta ray-like creature called a batolec flies through the sky. These creatures filer out nanites from the sky above using its monomolecular filaments in its mouth. The atmosphere passing across these filaments emits a low hum which can be heard for miles. It is said that when two of these creatures meet, they engage in an incredible aerial display and the range of sounds echoing across the surface to be utterly enchanting.
3 Rolling hills of scrapheaps extend for miles. Green fumes waft off of them, the products of hundreds of years of corrosion. The sky is a dark green with motes of yellow dispersed through out. Generally the motes appear fixed in the sky, but every so often they shuffle around in the sky. This shuffling is accompanied by a cacophony of all-to-human screaming and shouting.
4 An immense cloud of nanites and drones float above the land. It slowly moves through the sky, darkening the land beneath. Every so often, a section separates, and flies off on its own to form its own cloud. Broken and de-powered nanites and drones rain down from the sky. This has attracted small bands of scavengers that follow these clouds over the land.
5 In the distance, a flock biotic creatures float in the air, their tentacles hanging down. Called clairedones, they are large, transparent sacks with colors and structures floating and spinning inside. The tentacles grab almost randomly at any mostly biotic organism that might happen by.
6 Water starts coalescing as pools on the surface of the ground. As the pools grow and grow, eventually they start gurgling softly. The intensity of the movement increases with every second until, suddenly, droplets of water start shooting up from the ground. This reverse rainfall continues until all the pools have emptied and the land is left completely desiccate.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Alternative forms of wealth in Numenera

Wealth takes many forms through out the Ninth Realsm. While shins are the standard form of currency in Numenera, there are many other forms of wealth and value. Below is a table various different valuable items can be used in trade almost everywhere. Suggested values are provided in parentheses but feel free to use whatever values you want.

1d12 Form
1 Disc of pure, black graphite. There are no traces of synths or biotics. (10 shins each)
2 Many fine synth threads woven together into a small ring. Multiple rings are worn on cords as necklaces or bracelets. (3 shins each)
3 A small transparent globe with shards of minerals and synth floating around inside. When placed on level surface the globe does not roll, and when pushed it does not roll but slide. (5 shins each)
4 Brick of crystalline matrix supported by a fine weave of synth around it. These bricks are commonly used by trade groups and merchants who deal in very large quantities. Worth nothing outside of the Steadfast. (100 shins each)
5 Seskii teeth set in a delicate synth facet with a roundel of seskii scales wrapping around it. (0.5 shins each)
6 Strange fish-like scales which glimmer only under the night sky. (1 shin each)
7 Foot-long rod of scintillating white-yellow light. When touched, small arcs of electricity course up and down the outside of the rod. While they cause a slight tingle, there is no negative effect. These rods can be rigged to power archaeo-tech if necessary. Valued highly by tinkers and artificers. (50 shins each)
8 Small blue flat crystals. When gripped by a biotic, the grip ends at an very small slightly glowing force-field that makes the crystal float in the hand. When not being help by a biotic appendage, these crystals lie flat and behave as expected. (5 shins each)
9 Tiny black marbles. When inspected very closely, tiny human like skulls float inside moving via their own accord. (3 shins each)
10 Autobits. Small synth-steel cubes with random numbers on every side which change every second. If on your person, if they are thought about they automatically appear in your hand. This effect does not persist once traded or stolen. This effect appears tied to "ownership". (2 shins each)
11 Shards cut from biologically grown crystal matrices that naturally occur deep below the Black Riage. These crystals are considered extremely valuable not only for their beauty, but also for their excellent conducting properties. (5 shins each)
12 Half-inch thick woven cords of synth about a foot long. When pressure is applied to the cord, it changes color depending on both the pressure and temperature of the bearer. When placed end to end, these cords automatically splice together to form a longer and longer cord. Long ropes of these cords are traded for very valuable goods. (10 shins per foot)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Alchemical (gastric) brooding frog

The alchemical (gastric) brooding frog is a combination of natural and magical breeding that has resulted in an incredible useful, albeit disgusting, small creature. This multi-colored frog broods its tadpoles in its mouth. Each tadpole, when ingested, produce a minor magical effect. When the frog is squeezed, it shoots out a random tadpole with one of the following colors and magical effects. These frogs can be found for purchase in Sigil.

1d8 Tadpole
1 red: +1 to all damage for one minute.
2 blue: +1 to all saving throws for one minute.
3 green: heal 1d4+1 HP.
4 pink: character can jump extra high once given a successful Strength check, jumping up to twice their movement.
5 yellow: character's palms become extremely sticky allowing them to stick to sheer surfaces without moving for up to once minute.
6 purple: for one minute, if this character is struck with a melee attack, the attacked must make a save versus poison or be blinded for one round.
7 white: breath underwater for one minute.
8 orange: character produces a massive belch and all hostile creatures within 10 feet must make a saveversus breath weapon or be sickened for one round (-2 all rolls).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Warhammer Fantasy Firearms and 5e

Continuing this Warhammer Fantasy meets 5e D&D train, I decided to move onto a very important part of the world: firearms.

The Warhammer fantasy world is best comparable to the early Modern period so things like multinational trade, roads, printing, arrival of the middle/merchant class, and the introduction of firearms into military usage. As such, the Empire from WFRP and WFB has a lot of guns. And in the roleplaying games, the PCs get access to guns (sometimes) though they are extremely expensive.

Currently, 5e does not have rules for guns let alone guns that are analogous to WFRP. Here are some rules that are mostly just doing the ratios between WFRP and 5e with a bit of massaging. I'm not sure about making them simple, but let's see how that goes. The 1d10 bit from the firearm property is very not 5e, but I don't care. I'm also pretty sure these could be made a bit deadlier, but I have yet to actually test these all out. Also it is kind of the point that these are prohibitively expensive. Knock off a 0 if you want to have players actually be able to buy these.

Weapon properties

Firearm To reload a weapon that has the firearm property, this character must take their entire turn (both action and movement). If a 1 is rolled while making an attack roll with a weapon with the firearm property that weapon is now jammed. This weapon cannot be reloaded or fired until a successful DC 10 Intelligence or Dexterity check is made as a Use an Object action to unjam the weapon. Additionally, that character must roll 1d10. On a 1 the weapon explodes, is destroyed, and does it's damage to the bearer. Unless noted, a weapon with the firearm quality needs both shot and gunpowder in order to be fired.


Martial Ranged Weapons
Arquebus 1000 gp 1d10 piercing 8 lb. Ammunition (range 150/600), firearm, loading, two-handed
Blunderbuss 100 gp 1d8 piercing 4 lb. Ammunition (range 20/60), firearm, loading, special
Pistol 600 1d8 piercing 2 lb. Ammunition (range 30/120), firearm, loading

Special weapons

Blunderbuss The blunderbus does not have traditional ammunition and instead is just a bunch of nails and other random hard bits propelled via a bit of gunpowder.

Adventuring gear

Gunpowder (10) 30 gp 1 lb.
Shot (10) 1 gp 10 lb.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rings and Challenges of Ysgard

The preview to this session was that the PCs would be traveling to Ysgard, a CG plane. In addition, this was the last session before our summer hiatus.

The session began with Bobby, Norbys, and Nearin all sitting in Plane-atary Express. I introduced the names and specialties of the two other groups working for Plane-atary Express: a group of primes that specializes in long haul caravan protection that is contracted out to the Planar Trade Consortium, and a group of planar adventurers that specializes in jobs on the Inner Planes. However, the group was mostly uninterested knowing that Kale in particular cares most about the financial affairs of the business.

After a little hemming and hawing, an old woman entered the shop looking for Balial. She introduced herself as Ingwe Alting, a Ring-giver. Ring-giver are a lesser planar sect based in Ysgard that believes that by giving everything away, even greater rewards can be earned. How this works out, mechanically, is that anyone who is given a gift by a Ring-giver has a really hard time resisting providing that person with a favor whenever they call upon it. They take the planar law of the Unity of Rings very seriously.

Ingwe Alting explained that she was an old friend of Balial and that she was hoping to enlist his aid for dealing with a little bet she had set up on Ysgard. After learning that Balial had died, she offered a deal to the party. 1000 gp each now if they'd participate in the harvest festival called the Challenges of Glory in Vanheim. If one of them places high enough, she'll be able to pay them even more. At that, she thrust a sack of gems into each person's hands.

She also told the PCs that she didn't have the portal key, but that she knew of two very good shops who's owners owed her a favor: Seamusxanthuszenus of Parts 'n Pieces and Alluvius Ruskin of Tivvum's Antiquities. The players decided to speak to Alluvius, who gladly gave them a portal key in order to settle her debt to Ingwe.

The group then traveled to Vanheim and got ready for the contest. While prepping, they spyed another team of ringers hired by the other party in Ingwe's bet.

There were four contests: archery, an obstacle race, a puzzle race, and a drinking contest. I don't recall a lot of the exact details, but all the contests were resolved as a series of ability checks until the top three contestants were found. I gave the PCs opportunities to cheat or otherwise help each other via their feats and other skills or ingenuity. It seemed to work out amazingly and the entire night was just laughter and fun.

Bobby won the obstacle race. Norbis tied the drinking contest with one of the other team of ringers. Otherwise the PCs placed in the middle of the pack, though I think Nearin was top 3 in the puzzle contest which was won by a naked amazon warrior.

Bobby placed high enough in enough events to qualify as a NOBLE WARRIOR, which earned him a bunch more gold than everyone else. It also meant he got to party extra hard and all the ladies were hounding him. Ignwe paid the party 1000 gp each and said that she'd be on the look out for them if she ever needed a hand again. She and her betting partner than gave each other 1000 gp as a result of their bet.

This session was extra fun because it involved a lot of rolling but none of it was combat. In addition, it challenged the players to think of new ways to use their powers which is always a good idea. It was a great last game before out three month hiatus.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Warhammer Fantasy Gods and 5th edition

So in addition to Planescape and Plane-atary Express, I've been slowly working on a Warhammer Fantasy inspired game. I've also recently bought the 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons handbook. In my boredom, I've decided to start making some 5th edition conversions of the Warhammer Fantasy world.

I started out with the Old World Pantheon along with a few non-human gods because it seemed easy enough. I am not providing a comprehensive list of gods, such as those of Kislev or the Slaan, but it is a decent start for a 5e game set in the WFRP world. I'm not including the holy symbols in my brief write up because that seemed unnecessary and is easy to look up (Sigmar is a twin-tailed comet, etc.). I've also been incredible lazy with the elven gods because I'm not as familiar with them as I could be.

I've avoided the Chaos gods/Ruinous Powers for now as I want to also mock up some insanity/corruption rules for that.

Human Deities

Name Alignment Domain
Sigmar, founder and patron of the Empire LN War, Light
Ulric, god of wolves, winter, and battle LN War
Morr, god of death, dreams, and prophecies N Death
Shallya, goddess of healing and mercy NG Life
Ranald, god of thieves and tricksters CN Trickery
Verena, goddess of knowledge, science, law, and justice LN Knowledge
Taal, goddess of nature and wild places N Nature
Rhya, goddess of life and fertility NG Life, Nature
Manann, god of the seas CN Tempest

Dwarf Gods

Name Alignment Domain
Gungni, god of mining, smithing, and forging LN Knowledge
Valaya, the protector goddess LN Life
Grimir, god of warriors and slayers LN War

Greenskin Gods

Name Alignment Domain
Gork and Mork, twin gods of cunning and brutality CN War, Trickery

Elven Cadai

Name Alignment Domain
Asuryan, the phoenix god and king of the gods LG Light
Isha, motherly goddess of the harvest NG Life
Kurnos, god of the hunt CG Nature
Vaul, god of smithing N Knowledge
Morai-Heg, goddess of souls N Death
Lileath, goddess of the moon, dreams, and fortune N Knowledge
Hoeth, god of wisdom and knowledge LN Knowledge
Khaine, god of war (and murder) N War

Stay tuned for more Warhammer Fantasy -- 5e cross-overs!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


This adventure was previewed solely via the word "Nisean."

The session started with the PCs standing around Plane-atary Express as the new owners of the business. They all learned that there are two other teams working for them, both of which are out on jobs in the Outlands and Lower Planes respectively.

After discussing the future of the business and advertising options, a familiar face walked into the shop: Tripicus, the ursinal expert on the Prime (Uncaged: Faces of Sigil). He was accompanied by a female baurier who introduced herself as Audrian.

Audrian is the owner of a stables in the Market Ward that specializes in the housing, rearing, and selling of exotic and planar mounts. Recently her most beloved horse, Nisean, escaped from it's stall and, frightened, ran through the Market Ward until it disappeared through a portal. Nisean is the offspring of the Nic'epona (Planescape Campaign Setting) and a Nightmare. Nisean is a young horse and only just discovered it's ability to blink, which is how it escaped it's stall and spooked itself. Audrian offered the players a mount of their choice if they could return her Nisean to her. In order to help the party, she gave the group a bag full of special apples which were Nisean's favorite food.

Tripicus informed the PCs that Audrian had come to him for help because Nisean had apparently gone through a portal to a lesser known Prime Material Plane. The known portal key is a silver horse-shoe, which apparently Nisean was shod with. Tripicus, remembering how well his last interaction with Plane-atary Express went, brought Audrian to the players so that they could help her. He was also hoping that the PCs might do a little field research on his behalf.

Having negotiated the terms of the job, the PCs headed off through the portal to the unknown Prime Material Plane. The PCs emerged from behind a wooden building in a small anthill of a town. The town sat on the shore with a small dock sticking out from it, and a dozen or so buildings nestled around it. The town was surrounded by a wooden palisade. The building the players had emerged from was labeled "The Merry Dwarf Shoppe." Nearby was a large building labeled Flying Soldier Guild House.

The PCs entered the Flying Soldier where there were a mix of obvious adventurers, both greenhorn and experienced, sitting at the bar. Sitting in the back corner were a group of merry halflings singing and dancing.

It was at this exact moment that all the players realized what I had just pulled on them. They were in the main town from our previous campaign, Dungeonship! This was New Corden.

The PCs asked around about the horse, which had apparently ran through town to the west, toward Weston. The PCs hired three adventurers to accompany them: a fighter, a thief, and a halfling. The halfling was Jim Riddlebottom, a descendant of Tom Riddlebottom, and was a champion wall climber. Tom Riddlebottom was the name of a halfling hireling from Dungeonship who died when his face was ripped off by a skeleton and is a bit of a legend in our group.

The PCs purchased a map of the surrounding region from Percy at the Merry Dwarf Shoppe.

I ran this adventure as a pointcrawl as described over at the fantastic Hill Cantons blog. This means that I outlined a few locations that the PCs could travel to or through in their search. It startled the line between sandbox and railroad, which I appreciated because I was trying to run this adventure in one night. It meant that the players had a great deal of choice in what they could do, but I was always prepared.

The PCs headed west toward Weston. Along the way the passed close to the Elven Woods and were greeted by a retinue. The conversation was mostly about how they had never seen a baurier before or where Bobby, a half-elf, was from.

After the elves, the PCs passed through a field of wildflowers with a huge barrow in the middle. After trying to pick a few flowers, a giant ogre appeared on top of the barrow and yelled at the PCs to leave his flowers alone. The ogre was a encounter from Dungeonship where one of the more well liked characters, Wavecutter, was killed.

Weston was smaller than New Corden was primarily served as a mining town. When the PCs arrived in Weston, a group of hunters were butchering a 30 foot long boar. Giant boar are known to inhabit the valley northeast of Weston. The PCs asked around about Nisean and found out it had ran past town, blinking randomly, and had headed north through the Valley of Large Creatures.

Even though it was getting late, the PCs decided to push on through the valley in order to reach the oasis on the other side. Along the way, a stamped of boar caught them by surprise. The PCs were able to avoid them but their halfling hireling, Jim Riddlebottom, was not so lucky and was impaled on a tusk.

As night fell, the party arrived at the oasis on the other side of the valley from Weston. In the dark, they spied a small camp fire near the pool of water. With Kale and Bobby staying behind, Norbys and the two hirelings approached the fire though his attempt at parlaying did not go over well. Instead, the party was made to camp in the woods and stand watch all night. Didn't help that Norbys had the head body of Jim Riddlebottom slung across his pony.

During the night, as was during Dungeonship, the party took turns keeping watch. And as was inevitable, the party was attacked in the middle of the night. This time, it was a pack of wolves which were quickly dispatched. Everyone enjoyed the nostalgia hit and realized how nice it was that we don't have to do that almost every session.

In the morning the party spoke to the other group camped at the oasis and found out that a horse matching Nisean's description had run through the woods the other day and up into the goblin mountains to the north.

The party hiked up the goblin mountain with great care, Kale using his Cloak of Elvenkind to scout ahead and make sure the party was safe. He encountered a small band of goblins walking by and chatting about Gubleschlack or something similar, but they quickly moved away and out of earshot. There were no other encounters.

The top of the goblin mountain is always covered in a huge, thick cloud. Previously, there had been a massive cloud forest there which was tended too by a druid and his magic stag and dire bear companions. In Dungeonship, the party had helped save the cloud forest by defeating a manticore with a powerful defiling artifact. However, they had been unable to destroy the artifact and buried it, hoping to one day figure out how to destroy it.

The party arrived at the top of the mountain to find a dark and twisted shadow of a forest. The trees had turned a black ashen color, devoid of leaves. There were no elements of life present. The party pressed on hoping to find Nisean, as there was evidence that the horse had run into the woods.

While walking through the woods, the PCs arrived at a small clearing when they heard the horrid whisper of a long corrupted being telling them to leave its forest or be killed. At that moment, an ancient dire bear and skeletal great stag appeared from the dead forest and stood ready to attack the party. Bobby, with masterful perception, realized that one of the trees was but an illusion and fired a couple of arrows at it. It suddenly transformed into an old, preserved man, his skin taught against his bones as if he was preserved in tar and other fixatives. It was the druid and he was wearing the horrid defiling necklace.

The druid began the combat by casting hold person on Bobby, who failed his save and was stuck there. The rest of the party took the time to attack at the stag and druid. Kale slipped his ring of free action on to Bobby's finger, which canceled the effect of the druid's spell. The party then dispatched the druid, which caused the spell animating the stag to end. Kale then communicated with the dire bear that they didn't have to kill it and that it could leave, which it promptly did.

The party then tried to figure out what to do with the amulet. Every time a PC tried picking it up, I had them make a save or it would suddenly appear in their hand and they couldn't drop it. Everyone kept failing their saves and having other party members steal it from each other or try and fail to put it in their bags. Eventually the party resorted to just burying the amulet and piling a lot of dead trees over the spot so it would be hard to get at. Kale then planted a few seeds nearby in an attempt to restore the cloud forest. The party also took a soil sample in order to see if they could find a way to defeat the necklace.

Further in the woods the party found a cage made out of gnarled branches holding Nisean. She was stamping her hooves on the ground and looking very upset. The party offered her the special apples, which she gladly ate and calmed down a lot knowing that they were friendly. Kale tried talking to her and helped her picture the exact feeling she had when she blinked out of her pen in Sigil. After a few tries Nisean was able to blink out of the cage and appear next to the party.

With Nisean in tow, the party quickly returned to New Corden and took the portal back to Sigil. Audrian was overjoyed to see Nisean and offered whatever stabling services the party could ever need in return, along with the promised mounts of course. The party also took the maps and soil sample to Tripicus. He promised to look into ways of destroying the necklace. The party also membered their friends in Mount Celestia who might also have ideas.

This was a really fun adventure in a wholly personal way. The party is made up entirely of players who had also been in the Dungeonship campaign, so it was a great trip down memory lane. Lots of opportunity to revisit aspects of the old campaign without having them become "features" of the current one. Everyone seemed to really enjoy it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Modron Madness Part 2

The second session of "Modron Madness" picked up exactly where the first had ended. The party was standing around modronoid Balial trying to figure out what to do with him. Do they kill him? Try and find a way to save him? The only thing for certain was that they were going to hunt down who ever did this to him and make them pay. Dearly.

Norbys was the first to come up with a solid plan. He suggested that the party put Balial out of his misery as it was clear that whatever act had been done to him had left him permanently damaged. Nearin and Kale both agreed, and so Norbys drew his misericorde and delivered the coup de grace on Balial. After that he prepared a small ceremony as befiting his god, Nerull.

After the ceremony, the party headed further away from Sylvania in the direction of the tracks. The party traveled under the cover of night until they reached a small cave opening from which light was pouring out. Two men were standing guard rather carelessly. The PCs were able to make out the Bleaker symbol on their clothing.

Unsure what was going on in the cave, the party decided to investigate around the mound to see if there was a way in. At the top of the mound was a small hole for the smoke from within to exit. When spying in, Kale was able to see that there was a group of humans sitting around eating and playing cards. There were no signs of any prisoners or modron parts.

Searching around the mound more, the PCs were able to find a hidden entrance into the cave. Sneaking in, they spied on the relaxing mercenaries. Kale, using his Cloak of Elvenkind, moved further into the cave and into another passage which led to a sleeping chamber. Content that these people were only mercenaries and not the actual culprits, the group moved on.

A little bit from the cave was the ruins of a fallen tower up against a hill. A set of stairs led up to the entrance to the refurbished base of the tower. The entrance to the dome appeared unguarded until the PCs keen senses revealed two hidden guards signaling each other with bird calls. The PCs decided to parlay and try and figure out what was going on.

The two guards were Bleakers and part of the mercenary company the group had already encountered. They were working for a man named Valran whom they didn't care much for but a job is a job. After a bit of back and forth, the PCs were able to gain entrance to Valran's home and were led straight to him in his laboratory.

The sight of Valran's lab was not for the weak of stomach. On two dissecting/operating tables sat the body of a dead human and a series of modron parts. Blood and oil stains abounded on the floor and almost every touchable surface. Valran looked up from his work and regarded the PCs with the face of madness, his smock covered in blood and oil.

The PCs began by talking to Valran to figure out what was going on. Long story short, he was a Sensate trying to figure out what it is like to be a modron. And as such, he was experimenting with combining man and machine. When his work is completed, he will fashion for himself an apparatus so that he can truly bind with the modron and feel what they feel. He also believed that nothing should interfere with his work and that Balial's death was all for the good of his work and offered the PCs a small sum of money.

Unappeased by the money, the group closed the door behind them and attacked Valran. The PCs opened with a series of brutal strikes against Valran, who's major defense was to use disabling spells like hold person and ray of enfeeblement. However, the combat seemed to much for him with out mercenary support, so he cast mistform on himself and escaped out through a chimney in his lab. This left the PCs furious.

At the same time, a loud commotion began in a nearby room. A group of modronoids, half-(demi)human half-modron, had escaped and were rampaging through the fallen tower. The few mercenaries on guard where fighting them in the hall as the players slipped out of the lab.

On the way out the PCs attempted to quickly explore the rooms they had passed on the way in before the modronoids killed the mercenaries. Most of the rooms were rather mundane, but the PCs were able to grab a small selection of sense stones.

Finally, before heading out, the PCs decided to gather all their flammables and light the tower on fire as a final act of retribution. They stood outside the door to make sure no one escaped. However, they weren't counting on their being other prisoners in the tower. The screams and pleadings of the mercenaries and prisoners, along with the insane screams of the modronoids continued for a long time until finally they all ceased. The PCs had accidentally burned a bunch of innocent people to death.

Back in Sylvania, the PCs investigated the sense stones. One of them in particular seemed to call out to all of them. It was Balial's sense stone that Valran had captured from him. All three of the present PCs placed their hands upon the stone and experienced the sensation together.

It was a memory of Balial at the previous modron march, over 1000 years ago. He was much younger then and was partying and having a wonderful time. As the memory faded, the very weak voice of Balial could be heard saying: "You were the best and I thank you for that. Plane-atary Express is now yours." At that, the sense stone fell dormant, never to work again. The PCs now owned the business!

This session was emotionally really rough. The PCs committed some seriously evil actions in their blood rage. Valran escaped and now represented a real villain for the team, which is awesome considering how organically it happened.

Apparently the burnings scarred Nearin's player so much that she spent the next week afraid of doing similar actions in her other RPG games.

All things considered, this two part adventure was amazing from a GMing perspective. Never before have things worked out so organically that the PCs would actually experience rage, heartbreak, and the discovery of a true villain. I'm not one for long running BBEG, but this has given me the opportunity to play with that. The tactic I'm taking is using Valran very rarely so that the PCs keep chomping at the bit to finally track him down and kill him.

Again, this was the adventure "Modron Madness" from The Great Modron March.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Modron Madness Part 1

The email hint for this campaign was that the party was going on vacation to Sylvania with Balial. This had also been revealed during the previous session.

Picking right up where the previous adventure had ended, with the PCs about to embark on "Spring Break" in Sylvania. The PCs spent a day or two gathering their supplies, feeding their plants and pets, and other random business around Sigil. Once that was all taken care of, the players all hopped onto Balial's wagon and headed off to Sylvania. PORTAL

Sylvania is in a constant state of celebration, with everyone partying and enjoying themselves in a very public fashion. You could imagine Sylvania as just one giant Bourbon Street or similar party location. Just a long strip of bars, restaurants and other places of pleasure. The PCs arrived just before the modrons were supposed to March through Sylvania, so it was even more excuse to party. The quote from the adventure in The Great Modron March sums it up nicely: "The modrons are coming? This calls for a drink. calls for a party!"

The group guided their cart to the Druken Leaf, a large inn just off the main drag of Sylvania. Speaking to the proprietor, Allisanaa Boughbender, that Balial had apparently paid for individual rooms for each of the PCs as well had agreed to pay whatever their tab was at the Druken Lead. The PCs, elated at this news, promply ordered a round of drinks from the options listed below. Balial then parted from the group to go find his old friends and party it up.

Knowing that the Modron March wouldn't be arriving for 3 days, the PCs decided to live it up and explore what Sylvania had to offer them. They were not disappointed. Instead of trying to describe every detail over the session, I'm going to point out the locations and highlights and the awesome details that really made it all work.

The Druken Leaf - on tap day 1: Baurier Golden Draught, Olympic Gutbuster, Elven Slomead - on tap day 2: Elysian Fields Wheat Beer, Elven Dark Root Ale, Baurier Sour ("taste the hay")

The Dipping Dragon (A Player's Primer to the Outlands) - bar rocks back and forth, throwing its patrons around. awesome party.

Other random drink encounters - drinking constest: Slaad Shakes. Need to drink super fast before it tries to kill you. everyone took the first shot them woke up the next morning with no memory of the night.

Also in Sylvania is a Sensate Embassy, which Nearin insisted the PCs go experience. The embassy itself is an architectural wonder being a hollowed pyramid made of petrified wood (A Player's Primer to the Outlands) with a huge open pantheon taking up the entire first floor with random offices and quarters suspended in the air by connections to the pyramid. One pestles all around the main chamber are sense stones which let the user experience completely one recorded memory. Each of the present PCs (Norbys, Kale, Nearin) decided to touch a differen sense stone each. To represent the experiences, I read of randomly from a huge list of sense stones from Planeswalker (which seems to currently be down). It was awesome and the players got a huge kick out of it.

The party also at one point started the day by going on a picnic in the forests and glades surrounding Sylvania. While there, Norbys used his ability to talk to small woodland creatures to begin a conversation with a badger. The badger, responding only with "badger", "food", and gestures, became very friendly to the PCs when they gave him some of their lunch. He then led them to a small bush nearby and began digging, while chanting "badger badger". Eventually, he brought a small ring to Norbys. It was a ring of feather fall!

The party also visited in ogre craftsman named Glorfo who specialized in glass wear. After a little back and forth the party commissioned a set of pimp chalices for each of the members. On the pimp chalice would be a depiction of the entire party, including Xanros, riding on the back of a monodrone and a quadrone with a banner saying "Planeatary Express". This was a really fun moment for the group and was a continued realization about how well the entire group gets along and how well the campaign had been going.

The entire time the party was enjoying the three days before the March they would randomly encounter Balial in the center of an amazing party. For example, one time they ran into him leading a giant conga line out of a bar, another time leaving his suite at the Drunken Leaf with a gorgeous tiefling and half elf, and another time being carried around the streets with a whistle in his mouth and handing out beads and garland. When ever he would spot the players he would ask them if they were having fun and exclaim how much fun it was working with them as they always got the job done.

Eventually, the Modron March was scheduled to arrive. The entire town poured into the main drag in preparation, everyone excited and partying. The party joined them and pushed their way into the throng. The whole group was on edge in fear of something going wrong considering their last two encounters with the modrons. At that momment, the modrons appeared from the portal and began walking along the path out of Sylvania and into the rest of the Outlands. The revelers proceeded to run amongst the modrons, pouring paint over them or covering them in garlands. This proceeded for a number of hours.

During this grand revelry, the party had to make checks are get separated from each other for the duration of the March passing through town. Every one but Kale failed, meaning that virtually everyone was now lost in the throng of the crowd. When the party eventually regrouped, Balial was no where to be found.

Worried that they had lost Balial, the party headed back to the Drunken Leaf and began questioning people as to if they had seen Balial or not. No one had seen him recently, but a few of the patrons had seen him in the crowd. Apparently, he was being followed by some bashers, the same bashers someone else had seen carrying off some random unconscious people. No one seemed to mind, though, as they were too busy partying. The one clue the group got was that the thugs had been carrying the people off into the woods out side of Sylvania.

Under the cover of darkness, the group went out into the woods to try and find Balial. Using Kale's ranger senses the party able to find track ways indicating people dragging bodies, which they then followed. Keeping to the shadows, the party kept on the trail until eventually they heard the sound of a half-human/half-machine scream heading their way. They paused only to witness a horrible site: Balial, or at least a Balial like thing, was slowly walking the path back to Sylvania. His body appeared tourtered and half of it had been replaced with various modron parts. His eyes were wild, with no indication of the Balial the party had once known.

Realizing the Balial had gone mad, they party jumped on him and attempted to subdue him and figure out what was going on. Modronoid Balial, screaming incoherently, attacked the party viciously, trying to kill them with his now blade-like hands. Eventually, the group was able to disable both his arms and tie him up. The subdued modronoid Balial just kep gnashing his teeth, screaming, and foaming at the mouth while the PCs contemplated what they had to do. And how they would find whoever did this to their beloved friend.

At this point, I decided to call the end of session. What a cliffhanger!?

This was the first half of what became a two part session. The players were in game furious that their awesome boss and friend Balial had been kidnapped and tortured, which was really cool to see. Never before had I really been able to stir up vengeance or bloodlust in PCs in a seemingly organic manner. Apparently it really affected the players as well, as when I saw them between this and the next session they would exclaim how angry they were. I felt really proud.

Hilariously, these two sessions happened around Spring Break at my Uni.

The adventure was just a campaign specific adaptation of "Modron Madness" which is Chapter V of The Great Modron March. The major differences were that I spent a lot longer on partying phase of the adventure in order to build tension and I used an already existing NPC instead of introducing someone to just kill off. I skipped chapters 3 and 4 of The Great Modron March because I did not think I could fit them within the central conceit of the campaign. Additionally, they didn't really suit my play style or GM-ing desires.

Also, if you haven't noticed, I enjoy when I get to use Outlands locations in adventures because it is an excuse for the players to use the awesome Mimir recordings from A Player's Primer to the Outlands.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Whistles in the Dark

The only hint given to the players was the title of the adventure: "Whistles in the Dark."

The PCs arrive at Plane-atary Express to find a flyer/note on their door inviting them to a performance at the Weary Head in the Hive. The Weary Head is a well known Bleak-nick bar where the artistic Bleakers gather and share their poetry and other forms of performance art. The flyer/note was signed H. H., which Bobby took to be some kind of salutation ("Hi Hommies!"). It is actually the signature of the advertiser Harys Hatchis (Uncaged: Faces of Sigil). Also, at the bottom of the flyer was a hand written note asking the PCs to meet with Jorun regarding a possible job opportunity.

When the PCs arrived at the Weary Head, the fensir twins Morvun and Phineas were performing (Uncaged: Faces of Sigil). This gave me the great opportunity to read some of Morvun's death "poems" which was really fun. Also, the art of the duo was really fun to show the players. During the performance, the PCs took up seats at the bar and hunted around for their contact.

After a few drinks and a little asking around, Jorun approached the group and informed them of the job. He wanted the PCs to go to the Slags and retrieve a tanar'ri supply cache. After that, he wanted them to take the cache to the town of Windglum in Pandemonium. Their, they'd get the portal key to come home and he'd pay them 2000 GP each and that they could find him at the House of the Griffen (Factol's Manifesto). The Slags are the most dangerous and decrepit part of the Hive where many crazy monsters wander around and no shops are set up (In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil).

The PCs agreed to the job and went off to hire some muscle to help them get through whatever they might encounter in the Slags. Hiring a group of four dwarves, the group headed into the Slags. While following the directions to the supply cache, Nearin was almost sucked into an ooze portal. Ooze portals are randomly appearing one-way portals between Sigil and the Para-Elemental Plane of Ooze, and the hands of ooze mephits have been known to grab at anyone walking by (In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil). As Nearin and one of the dwarves struggled with the ooze portal, a group of ooze mephits hovered into view from behind some collapsed buildings. A brief fight ensued with most of the players and dwarves fighting off the mephits while Nearn and a Dwarf struggled to pull themselves free.

After the fight, the PCs continued on to the supply cache. While approaching the cache, the PCs were struck by the strong smell of cinnamon. Also, near the cache itself there was a macabre scene of tiefling bones spread about in almost some kind of artistic manner. These were signs that the Kadyx had passed by recently (In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil). The cache itself was a small, human portable, sealed silver crate.

The portal to Pandemonium was two fallen columns just at the edge of the slags and the key was a bell without a clacker.

Entering into the Pandemonium layer of Phlegethon, the PCs stood at the entrance to a large cave. Deeper in the cave was the anthill of Windglum, a town of barmy people who had spent too much time in Pandemonium. Entering into the town, I described a few of the inhabitants and their various insanities. After that, I gave description over to the players to describe the behavior of an inhabitant.

At the Scaly Dog Inn, the PCs sat down and ordered a round of ales. While most of the patrons were sitting alone and muttering to themselves, a small group of bashers were sitting around a table scheming. The PCs, sitting near them, started dropping hints about why they were there and that they were looking for Kadin. Eventually, the other table noticed and ask the PCs to follow them to a back room.

In the back room, the leader of the three barmy bashers started demanding who they PCs were, why they were there, and who told them to come. The PCs tried being evasive for a while and eventually spilled the beans about who had hired them. The leader then took the box and had one of his cronies tell the PCs about the key to get back to Sigil. The key was a whistle that when blown produced no noise. The whole group of thugs was saying stuff about silence and luck the entire time, which the PCs didn't really pick up on.

After getting the key the PCs rushed to the portal and quickly tried to activate the key and portal. Turned out the Anarchists (Revolutionary League, this was obvious at this point) had tricked the PCs and given them wrong information! They were transported to some other part of Pandemonium and were surrounded in darkness.

While standing about in one of the many tubes that make up Pandemonium's second layer, the PCs were battered by a terrible wind and had to make checks versus "Wind Madness" (Planes of Chaos). Everyone passed the first round. When the winds finally died down, the PCs heard a terrible series of cries coming from their left. One of the voices was very high pitched with a stutter and the other was very low pitched punctuated with grunts. The voices were talking to each other, calling each other Cat (high voice) and Bru (low voice).

The PCs discerned that the two figures had decided to split up, with Bru heading towards the PCs. All the PCs have infravision, so they were able to see Bru the moment he got close. He was a cambion who had been blinded and was missing his eyes. The PCs sprung into action and tied up Bru, though he was able to get one cry off before he was subdued.

After a few second, Cat appeared on the ceiling. Because of the gravity in Pandemonium is screwy, it is always in the direction of your "feet". This meant that Cat, a blinded and sicked Beholder (!!!), was able to float over the heads of the PCs at shoot off an eye beam before they could react.

The fight was really intense and the PCs made good use of the gravity to aways have the wind to their advantage. Also, Cat was missing 3 of its eye stalks, which made their lives a little easier. Kale, Norbys, and Bobby were fighting valiantly but were racking up damage really fast. Nearin was able to shape change into an arcanoloth and scare off Cat by threatening it with an army of yugoloths.

After the fight, the PCs questioned Bru for a way home. Bru, in a show of good faith so they wouldn't kill him, showed them a stash of dead adventurers gear. Inside was a bunch of magical weapons and some gems stones, which the PCs happily took. At this point, I had the PCs make saves against Wind Madness again, which Nearin and Bobby failed. The first stage of wind madness is anger, which manifests as impatience and violent behavior. They kept threatening Bru the entire time. The items were a +1/+3 vs Chaos long sword, and 3 +1 daggers that were unaffected by wind.

Eventually, Bru told them that at the end of this tube was a bottemless pit called the "Screaming Pit" which the winds whip out of at incredible speeds. Apparently this could act as a portal back to Sigil if the user was able to accurately picture an image of pure silence. Bru couldn't use it because he had gone far too mad while living in Pandemonium.

At the edge of the Screaming Pit, I had the PCs make one last save versus Wind Madness. Norbys, Bobby, and Nearin all failed. Norbys went to stage one and got super impatient, while Bobby and Nearin entered the apathy stage where they were unable to motivate themselves. Norbys then, a person who believes their is not point to it all, had to convince the others to jump with him. This was an absolutely hilarious RP moment.

The PCs landed in the Market Ward, falling through the portal made up of a stall's canopy and on to a seller's apples. Back in Sigil, all the effects of Wind Madness stopped, and can only return on Pandemonium. The PCs were over joyed to be back home. They took a short rest then went to hunt down Jorun at the House of the Griffen, hiring the same dwarves again.

At the House of the Griffen, they tracked down Jorun and took him out back. Their the dwarves gave him the boots, medium style, until he finally agreed to pay the PCs more than he had initially said he would and that he would leave them alone forever. Jorun had initially planned on not paying the PCs as they were expected to die in Pandemonium. Jorun then led the PCs into the secret back room of the House of the Griffen and into his Anarchist cell's hideout. There he gave them the 2000gp and an additional 200gp for them to keep quiet.

The PCs then got a magical message from Balial that he had a surprise for them. Returning to Planeatary Express, Balial revealed that because the PCs were so good at their job he was going to take them on a week long vacation to Sylvania, the gate town that is always partying!

I wrote this adventure and I am decently proud of it. The obviously weakest part of the whole thing was the portal key deception in Windglum. It was generally the most railroaded thing I've done in a while, but the players were kind and went along with it, though, which helped. This adventure was also a real GMing landmark for me because for the first time in the 12+ years I've been playing, I felt I had run a completely engaging and interesting session. I was glowing for days.

The energy throughout the whole adventure was good. The players reactions to Wind Madness were priceless. The fact that getting home relied on an impatient Bleaker giving a pep talk to a depressed and uninterested Cipher and Sensate was incredible. It is still talked about weeks later.

Another really fun part of the whole adventure was that the players were able to actually fight a beholder, albeit a weakened and insane one. Beholders aren't the kind of monster you face on a regular basis, if at all, because they are too "classic" D&D. What better venue to encounter one than in Planescape?! One of the players even tweeted about it, which just about made my day.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Taxing Mistakes: Hard Time

This adventure was part 2 of the "Taxing Mistakes" duet I set up for my players. The only clues they recieved prior to the adventure were that "mistakes" and Carceri were involved.

The adventure started with the PCs being hired by Tripicus, an ursinal scholar and expert on the Prime Material Planes (Uncaged: Faces of Sigil), to return a book to it's owner a dwarf named Zeracuk. The complication, however, is that Zeracuk died quite recently. Tripicus suspected, however, that he would have ended up in the Dwarven Mountain, a location in the Outlands were the dwarven gods live with their petitioners. Tripicus tells them the location of a known portal to the Dwarven Mountain behind a dwarven blacksmith's shop. They key to the portal is to brandish a dwarf crafted hammer.

The players head to the blacksmith's shop, purchase an (expensive) hammer from him, and brandish the hammer while passing through the portal to the Dwarven Mountain. A street teaming with drunk and merry dwarves greeted them, noticeably avoiding walking near the PCs. A large ale hall stood before them, large in the cavern amid the dwellings and shops.

The PCs entered Strongale Hall, the name of the large ale hall, and ordered drinks and started chatting to the extremely inebried dwarves. After a few hilarious conversations about what it means to be dwarven, the now drunk party meets a dwarven woman named Emera Stoutforge who offered to take the players to Soot Hall where the dwarven sages end up.

After a long walk deeper into the mountain, the PCs ended up in Soot Hall. A thick layer of soot coated everything, caused by the massive forges and refineries that fill the mountain. Norbys was extremely excited with this and began rolling in the soot. Emera dropped them off at the archives with the curator, Pyrus Chertchip.

When asked about Zeracuk, Pyrus does not know anyone by that name but does tell the PCs that a cross-trader had randomly ended up in Soot Hall and that they had unceremoniously shoved him through a portal into Carceri where he probably belonged. Suspicion grew that maybe Zeracuk and that man had "switched cosmic places" and that now Zeracuk was stuck in Carceri and needed to be found and brought back. Pyrus all but threated the PCs about this, saying that they'd face the wrath of the dwarves if they didn't help right this cosmic wrong. Pyrus then led the PCs to the portal they shoved the random through and opened it for them.

The PCs emerged on the other side of the portal standing on a small ledge at the end of a rope bridge spanning an impossibly deep chasm. The chasm separated them form a small town spread over two ridges and connected by similar rope bridges. As the PCs crossed the bridge, Norbys failed his Dex check and fell on to the slats of the bridge and got a good and frightening look at the near-infinite distance he almost fell. A crowd also gathered in the town, Gaola, with the folks jeering and taking bets on if the PCs would fall or not. When they finally made it across, the crowd dispersed unhappily.

After talking to a few of the unhappy residents of Gaola, the PCs learn that a dwarf had recently been in town and taken the only bridge out of town. He may have gone to the town of Straifling, the steading of the hill giant power Grolantor, or the palatial temple of the titan Crius. The PCs head out on the path for Zeracuk.

After getting half way across the bridge out of town, the Watcher of the town threatens to cut the bridge unless one of the PCs comes to her and coughs up some jink as means of a "toll." If more than one comes, or they fail to pay, she would have cut the bridge loose and the PCs could have fallen to their deaths. Bobby gathered the necessary funds and headed back to pay the Watcher.

Out of town, the PCs carefully treaded along the paths along the crags. Frequently I had them make Dex checks to see if they might fall or tumble, which led to a few of the PCs falling a little bit but catching themselves a little worse for the wear.

Eventually, the PCs came to a fork in the road where a very dirty female giant was standing and looking quite confused. When approached, she dropped her club and cowered in fear of the PCs saying she didn't want any trouble. Eventually, when the PCs were able to calm her down, she explained that she was lost and was looking for her god, Grolantor. The PCs offered to help her find her way which made her very happy. She offered to help the PCs move over the treacherous terrain and used a rope to tie them all together.

The PCs headed right on the trail, which was a very long and arduous journey which eventually led them into a terrible wind storm. Pressing on, the wind grew and grew in intensity until it suddenly stopped at the exact moment a giant fortress suddenly appeared before them. Tanaaka, the hill giant, curious that this was the steading of her god offered to run up to the gate and ask if they had seen Zeracuk. After a brief conversation with the gate guards, she came back and, sadly, said they had not seen any dwarves. At this, the party bid farewell to Tanaaka as she left to join her god in his home.

The PCs the returned to the cross-roads and took the left path. After a while, there was another fork in the road: one path to the right which headed straight up one of the treacherous peaks, and the path to the left which stayed level but went around a different peak.

The PCs chose to head left, up the peak. After walking up the sheer cliff, the PCs came upon a level ridge forming a platform from where a cave loomed from within the rocks. Bones were scattered over the ridge. A loud series of noises emanated from the cave: cursing, screaming, laughter, crying. It seemed as if the sounds were coming from a single being. As the PCs got near the cave, the noises mime sagely stopped. The PCs began to deliberate over what to do when Bobby declared "I go in." Being a Cipher, Bobby has to comply with whatever the player said.

As Bobby approached the cave, a hoarse "Who's there?" came out of the cave as a arcanoloth peaked it's head out of the cave. Krell, the arcanoloth, appeared gaunt and malnourished, her ribs could be seen beneath her skin, her eyes were red from weeping, and she smelled horrid. Her cave emitted the stench of waste and rot. The PCs started talking to the pitiful arcanoloth as she wailed and wailed about how she was so hungry. Eventually, the PCs struck a deal where they gave her some rations in exchange for a descriptive map of the region. She all but attacked the food offered to her and told the PCs everything they could possibly want. While she really wanted "souls," the rations suited her just fine.

Armed with a verbal map of the mountains of Colothys (the layer of Carceri the PCs were on), they quickly moved to Crius' Temple where Krell had said the dwarf probably went to.

The temple was massive and made of white and grey marble. The pillars and doors were sized for a titan and not a normal human, so the PCs were dwarfed by everything. The front door to the temple was open and the PCs walked inside with care. After entering into the temple, one of Crius' guards stepped out and demanded the PCs business. He wasn't very interested in actually stopping the PCs so much as "doing his job" in the weakest sense of the phrase. After giving a good enough excuse, the PCs asked the guard if he knew where the dwarf was. He pointed vaguely to one corner of the tremendous titan-sized temple, saying that in the hall one of the rooms should hold him.

In hallway, the PCs entered one room that was filled with different works of art made by Crius. They were beautiful and exquisite works created with incredible care. Each of the pieces was rooted to the floor using Crius' command of gravity. Norby's player spontaneously described how there was one piece of art that was just paint strokes suspended in air as a three dimensional piece of abstract art. This was a really awesome moment.

After inspecting the art gallery, the PCs opened the door that happened to be the prison of Zeracuk. Cautioning them not to enter the puzzle cage, he explained how the door was unlocked but he was unable to see the handle as the whole cage was of perfectly smooth marble. If the PCs grasped the door and pulled, but didn't enter, he could get out. Following his commands, they freed him. He then told them that a portal back to Sigil was in the storeroom just next door. Turns out that Zeracuk was an expert in portals and had gone to Crius' temple to find this portal but had been captured by the titan.

At this point, Crius appeared before the PCs. Towering over them, he rooted them to the ground with his gravity command and offered them a deal. If they could answer a riddle correctly, he would let them go. If they failed, he would imprison them for as long as he saw fit. Faced with no other options, the PCs consented to the deal.

The riddle: I pull you down. I let you soar. I diminish in water yet remain the same. I constancy hold you in my grip. Some say I'm interminable. What am I?

Given a few moments to deliberate, Crius demanded the PCs answer. Weakly, Kale answered "gravity." Crius, annoyed, responded that this wasn't strictly right but it was close enough to the correct answer of "weight" that he would let the PCs go.

The PCs then jumped through the portal to Sigil, took Zeracuk to the portal to the Dwarven Mountain behind the blacksmith's home, and delivered him to Soot Hall. In return for their help, Zeracuk gave each of the PCs an ability Manual of their choice. These are books that, when read, increase an ability score by 1. This is the only way to increase the base value of a stat.

This adventure was adapted from a pre-written module from Well of the Worlds titled "Chapter V: Hard Time". The transition from the Dwarven Mountain to Carceri was really forced and I felt was by far the weakest part of the module. I had a really hard time on the fly improving it and I still feel it came off really weak. It is really hard to write and succeed at hand-offs during adventures, and I felt this was rather ham-fisted. From both a module as written and a my execution of it perspective. The art of the first town in Carceri was great and I really enjoyed showing it to the players.

Carceri was a lot of fun to run. By using the organizational email to hint that the party was going to Carceri, I really put the players on their toes. They spent the majority of the beginning of the session being very afraid and cautions, out of game, and it was a fun to slowly reveal how and why they were going there.

I really hammed up the Arcanoloth, grabbing at my face and nearly screatcing with the desire for food. It really freaked out the players and was a great role play moment for them, especially with how Bobby and all of them realized that it was just hungry and didn't really want to hurt them per se. Well, beyond eating them. But only a little bit.

I started using of the art material from the books a lot more to help illustrate the scenes for the players. A lot of the planar locations and characters can be really tough to describe, so adding the images helped a lot. Additionally, because I own physical copies of almost every Planescape manual and boxed set (missing Planes of Conflict sadly), I put up a map/poster relating to each session. I just use a simple and cheap poster frame I bought and can easily replace the concents in. I'd always wanted to really take advantage of the posters and maps in this fashion so I finally pulled the trigger for this campaign and I've been using it for every session. The players seem to really appreicate it.

Also, this adventure represented a general transition in how I "bill" sessions in the organizational email. I'd already been very prone to naming adventures, but the use of a hint or preview element has become a neat element I'm trying to integrate more. It is a lot like doing "scenes from next week's episode" for my campaign, which fits because of the extremely episodic structure.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Taxing Mistakes: the Mazes

This adventure is part 1 of the "Taxing Mistakes" duet I set up for the players in the emails to the group.

The session began with the PCs in Sigil traveling around on their own visiting various establishments. Bobby went to the Grand Gymnasium and had a delicious Smootie made from the Smooth Berry from the deepest Beastlands. Nearin went to the Civic Feasthall and researched her trinket: a collar for a memorat which allows it to record more memories. Norbys stalked some alleyways and nabbed a cranium rat for himself which he would use to research the spell raise tiny dead.

The players all returned to their home to find a note stuck to the door. The note stated that there were 15 years of unpaid taxes associated with this property and the Tax Office was going to foreclose on the property. The only option for the players was to report to the Tax Offices in the Hall of Records. The Hall of Records is the faction headquarters of the Fated.

The Tax Offices in the Hall of Records were full of dejected looking people and various clerks running around. The players approached the front desk, explained the situation, and were told to report to Aram Oakwright, a major leader in the Fated (Factol's Manifesto). At the same time, Bobby went up to one of the dejected looking Cagers and asked what was wrong. The man said that the Heartless had taken his house and all his property and that now he'll have to live in the streets. This greatly upset Bobby who was strongly opposed to the "Tax People".

The players met with Aram Oakwright in his large office where he greeted them and offered them a deal. If they retrieved the sword of the legendary factol Vartus Timlin, he would forgive their debt and give them 15 years tax free. Timlin was mazed by the Lady of Pain a very long time ago and the Fated have found a way into his maze. And more importantly, they have found a way out. Should the PCs fail to obtain the sword, however, they would loose their house and all their worldly possessions. As a threatening tale, Aram tells the PCs of how the Fated became owners of the Hall of Records by foreclosing on Bigby's Magic College (Factol's Manifesto).

The PCs attempted a little bit of negotiation, with Bobby mostly asking that the dept of the man crying in the hall also be forgiven for his debts. Aram eventually agrees to a version of the players wants but forces them to be accompanied by NPC NAME a wood elf Fated thief played by a guest player sitting in on the session. She had the information on the portal, the key in and out, and was to take charge of the sword when it was acquired.

The PCs and NPC quickly moved to the gate to Timlin's maze located in the Hive behind a inn catering to fiends. Once in the maze, the players began marking the walls with chalk and moved along till they found a large statue of the Lady of Pain. The statue was the clue for finding the exit gate. The PCs then checked the place where Timlin had set up kip hoping to find his sword. They were able to track down a crude blade with the word Lightbringer crudely carved into it.

The players then kept exploring the maze, eventually realizing that it loops back upon itself. After hunting down the secret door, the players were ambushed by a group of Mercykillers guarding the way out. It turned out that the Fated were not the only group that had discovered the entrance, and exit, to Timlin's maze. The PCs were able to defeat all of the Mercykillers.

While searching through the rest of the maze for Timlin's sword, they encounter a large man who seems to not be alright in the head. He is slightly barmy and is both confused by the players but curious to see what they are doing. After a few words, he heads out to wander around the mazes more. The man was Timlin and he was carrying the Lightbringer.

A few more laps around the maze and eventually the players ran into a Harmonium guard that had also come into the Maze for Timlin's sword. A brief exchange of blows led to the players retreating. After a little bit, Timlin's wanderings brought him to the Harmonium as well. He cut them down easily and then turned to the PCs. Discarding his fool act, the vicious and calculating Timlin demanded that the PCs lead him out of his maze. He would even give them Lightbringer if they so desired.

After a little bit of deliberating, the PCs agreed to Timlin's deal. They gathered up all the food bowls, the key out, and stepped up to the portal out. Timlin following them closely, they all stepped up onto a dias. At the last moment, Norbys cast command on Timlin telling him to "stop". Timlin failed his save, and the PCs jumped through the portal as fast as they possible could.

In Sigil, the NPC grabbed the sword and placed it into her hair. Already a tight bun, the sword slid into place as a bright blonde highlight. The group then went to the Hall of Records and made sure the deal was sealed. They were forgiven for the tax debt and were no longer to pay taxes for the next 15 years. Also, the man Bobby referenced would have his property returned.

This adventure was loosely based on "Mazes" from Well of the Worlds with a lot of tweaks to the set up and interested parties. It worked out well, especially by having an NPC Fated joining the group. None of the PCs are sympathetic to the Fated's philosophies, so the interactions produced some great moments. For example, Bobby was complaining about the "tax collector people" to which the GUEST NPC replied "I am the tax people".

Monday, April 21, 2014

Archon's Mail and the Unswerving Path

This adventure was really complicated as I successfully pulled off an adventure inside an adventure. It also is rather long though it only took two sessions.

The party was sitting around Plane-atary Express talking to Balial when a beautiful trumpet archon walked in gracefully. She introduced her self as Zithere and wanted to hire Plane-atary Express to perform a series of simple deliveries for her with the utmost of speed, offering to pay them handsomely in return. Her and her friends were performing an item swap, primarily in Mount Celestia, and they needed a third party to help speed the process along.

After agreeing to perform the deliveries, Zithere produced a cracked and ancient lantern and explained that it once belonged to a legendary archon who used it to light the way up the Mountain. They party was to deliver this lantern to a man named Gandol in Excelsior, gate town to Mount Celestia. He would be found, most likely, at Pilgrim's Rest. She also pointed them in the direction to a portal to Excelsior and told them that when they return to please meet her at the Whole Note Inn in the Clerk's Ward.

The town of Excelsior shines bright with the color gold (A Player's Primer to the Outlands). The cobblestones and buildings are flecked in it, and the sun shines a bright golden hue across the entire town. Walking the streets are veritable droves of paladins, priests, aasimar, and other such good and/or lawful folk. Floating above the city are the Keeps of the Lord Protectors move back and forth with a constant vigil over the town.

The players quickly found Pilgrim's Rest after quickly asking one of the passing paladin's for directions. While most of the party was having quite a bit of trouble dealing with the various inhabitants of Excelsior, Xanros' lawful nature was providing invaluable in getting help about town.

The Pilgrim's Rest was rather quiet when the players entered with a hound archon standing behind the bar, two clerics arguing over the relative importance of law versus good, and a group of four pilgrims at a table. Approaching the bar the players asked the barkeep, Gyn, if he knew of Gandol. Replying in a hilariously nasally voice to the complete surprise of the party, he told them that it was one of the clerics they were looking for. After this there was brief verbal dispute with Xanros which ended in him being kicked out of the bar.

The rest of the party then approached Gandol, the cleric arguing the importance of good, and explained their business. Gandol happily accepted lantern and then presented the party with an old, cracked, and blackened trumpet. He explained that it belonged to a famed trumpet archon who carried it into battle with minions of the Lower Planes for millenia until he was finally struck down by a baatezu ambush. The trumpet was to be delivered to an old lammasu named Florain in Heart's Faith, the town on the other side of the gate to Mount Celestia.

Outside the bar, Xanros was met by the four pilgrims who used to be around a table in the bar earlier. They asked him about what he was doing in Excelsior, if he was preparing for a journey up the Mountain, and generally how he was doing. It was an odd encounter with Xanros confusing the pilgrims about what he worshiped and how he was doing. Great encounter.

While ascending the stair case inside the tower to the gate, the party was ambushed by the very same pilgrims from earlier. Turned out they were members of the Holy Shadow, a group of thieves and assassins who work to keep the law and goodness within Excelsior and diminish the ill effect of other forces. Obviously the non-good and non-law elements that pervaded the party has offended them to some degree. The fight was quick and each of the members of the Holy Shadow were dispatched.

Stepping through the gate, the players instantly fell into the vast Silver Sea of holy water. Carefully, they were all transported by the gentle zoveri which are large whale-like creatures and were deposited just up shore from Heart's Faith. They were on the layer of Lunia, the first layer of Mount Celestia, which is bathed in a perpetually calm night where stars twinkle above and a full moon illuminates the hills and Mountain side with a gentle glow.

The party entered Heart's Faith via the Petioner's Gate and asked the guards posted there where they could find Florain. The players learned that she lives in Citizen's Rest, just off the main path after the Archon's Gate (Planes of Law). The players also found out that she is the mother of the town's leader, Lebes, who is away on business.

Florain's house is rather modest though sized for a being of her size. Two levels, each about one and a half stories, rise up from the perfectly cobbled streets. The facade is reminiscent of the tudor-style, and the white paint between the tan wood is perfectly placed with no bit of out peeling. After knocking the door, large enough for a lammasu to pass through easily, opened for the PCs where they stepped into a large open common room with Florain lounging casually on a beautiful plush rug that was slightly worn with age. Stretching every so slightly, she politely asked the players business in her home.

The players presented Florain with the trumpet and explain they are a delivery service tasked with delivering the various packages from person to person. Florain nods with agreement, took the horn and placed it on her mantle, and grabbed for the players an old fishing net with shells, pearls and other small objects fixed in every knot. She explained to the players that this was the Twilight Net and it was to be delivered to Pethos, a dwarven blacksmith on the town of Nemmiron. Before departing, Nearin asked the lammasu if she might touch her paw. Amused at the Sensate's desire, she gladly lifted up her paw and held it up against Nearin's hand.

The journey to Nemmiron was mostly uneventful. Most of the characters had quite a bit of trouble finding their way around due their unfamiliarity with both good and law. Every short cut ended with their journey taking even longer. With Xanros' understanding of the great order of things, however, they were able to find a suitable path

Nemmiron is a small fishing town populated by humans, halflings, and dwarves. The chimney of the blacksmith shop lets off a small plume of grey-black smoke up into the twilight sky. Inside the shop the players found two dwarves working the forge with the walls of the shop covered in all manner of beautiful works, from religious symbols to dinner wear and beyond. After waiting for the dwarf to finish, he cheerfully approaches then and asks them their business. When presented with the net, his smile grows even wider and happily takes it saying that it will greatly help the town sustain itself. Whipping a grimy hand across his forehead, he scurried into the back room of the shop and delivers to the players a small black figurine of a beautiful throne archon. Saying it is stronger than they can imagine, he tossed it to them and asked them to deliver it to the Lampligher in Omyriel. Nearin commissioned from the dwarf a necklace depicting the Sensate symbol that would glow a different color with each new major emotion she felt. The dwarf agreed to this but stated it would take some time, but he would be happy to have it delivered to their home in Sigil. Mount Celestia is probably one of the few places in the Planes where such a promise would be fulfilled.

The PC's stayed the night in Nemmiron and then headed out to Omyriel. Along the way up the side of the Mountain, the players' journey was interrupted by a lantern archon bobbing up and down near their path asking them if they would follow it as one of it's superiors desires to speak to them. After a little bit of cajoling, the players eventually decide to follow the little bobbing light along a previously unseen path through the verdant hills. Bobby was frustrated with this decision as it distracted from the task at hand.

After following the lantern archon for a bit, the PCs found themselves standing before a silver terrace over looking the Sea. Standing on the terrace looking out at the coast stood a majestic sword archon clad in beautiful plate. Turning towards the players as they approached, the sword archon stated that she was Alziel and that she was hoping the players might help her save the town of Heart's Faith from the destruction Modron March. The modrons, though they represent pure law, seemed to be tainted with chaos given that they were marching out of sync. Because of this, the powers that be had requested that no archons make contact with the March. Alziel needed the players help to either divert the March or save the people of Heart's Faith from being crushed. Pointing to the shore, she indicated the path of the March and said it would reach the town in less than 10 hours. She also promised that the PCs would be rewarded 5000 gold pieces for their work if they wished.

The players deliberated for a long time and seemed to be split between helping the town or saying it wasn't their business and just keep delivering the various packages. Bobby was particularity against saving the town as it would distract them from their actual task and it made no sense to do anything else but keep going. In the end it came down to a vote and saving the town won, with Xanros being the tie breaking vote.

This ended the first session.

The next session picked up with the PCs splitting up, with half the party going to the March to see if they could divert it's path and the other half rushing to Heart's Faith to warn their townsfolk of the incoming destruction. However, Xanros' player wasn't in attendance, so both parties had a very difficult time traveling across the fields given their chaotic nature.

Eventually, the group heading to the March was able to catch up and follow along. The outer rim of the modrons was all monodrones, followed by duodrones, tridrones, and so on. Weaving their way in they were able to encounter a pentadrone who interrogates them about their business, asking all sorts of random and prying questions as to the histories and purposes of each of them. Eventually, the PCs got a turn to ask questions of the pentadrone after convincing it that they weren't completely barmy. However, all their efforts to sway the path of the pentadone were met with resistance. The pentadrone, with a strange insistence, refused to accept that the path the modrons were taking was anything but perfect. It was the agreed upon route and those must be followed exactly. Any changes to the layout of Heart's Faith was obviously an act of chaos and not in accord with the agreement regarding the modrons path. Realizing they were getting no where, the PCs decided to speed off to rejoin the group in Heart's Faith.

The other group arrived at the gates of Heart's Faith and desperately tried to hunt down whatever leader might be in place. Given that Lebes was away with his lammasu guard, the duty of town leader was bestowed temporarily on the aasimar Cauldronborn. Approaching him, the PCs were able to convince him of the incoming danger that could only be a matter of hours away. He then led them to the main entrance to Heart's Faith and gathered his troops. Under the guidance of the PCs, troops were dispatched through out the city to evacuate the populace, specifically to areas the March would avoid. They also asked that the troops might construct barricades or other structures that might slow the progression of the March. After a bit of time deliberating and planning a defense, the PCs who had gone to the March rejoined the group. The March just behind them.

Standing before the March, Cauldronborn demands that they halt. Confused by this, the monodrones and duodrones pause and await commands from above. Slowly, the sound of chatter goes back through the March and a quinton steps foward. It harshly questioned Cauldronborn as to the meaning of this interruption and questions the towns agreement with regards to the path of the March. Cauldronborn refuses to yield as the quinton raised its arms to smash him, declaring him a barrier to their progress. As none of the PCs reacted to help save him, the quinton slammed its arms down upon Cauldronborn, nearly killing him. In the confusion, the March continued on its way through Heart's Faith by breaking up into smaller bands each with it's own path.

The barriers helped slow the March and most of the populace had been evacuated, but there were still a few remaining locations that needed help: The Old Philosopher's Inn, the guards at a temple in center of town, people screaming from an apartment building in Citizen's Rest, the Library, and an Orphanage. The players decided to split up between the Inn, the apartment building, the library, and the orphanage.

At the Inn, an old man has stopped a group of modrons by saying that there is an ancient treaty which states that the Inn cannot be destroyed by the March. This confuses the modrons briefly, who relay this information back to their superior. Signaled with a wink, Nearin helped all the old men and women still inside the Inn escape and get to safety as the modrons deliberated over the existence of such a treaty. Eventually when a pentadrone stepped forward declaring such a treaty false, none of the townsfolk were there as they had all slipped away to safety.

Kale ran as fast as his goat legs would take him to the apartment building in an effort to save the people inside. As the March neared, Kale ran up the stairs and helped the people out of the now burning building. With the kids on his back, he made a few key jumps and was able to find a safe route out of the three story building just as the modrons ploughed into the side of it. As the dust settled, he sped off to see what else he could do to help.

Norbys ran to the library where a librarian was standing out front wailing to the modrons that they should avoid to the library because of how much knowledge would be lost. This was a very compelling argument for the modrons, who paused. With Norbys' help, an agreement was eventually reached and the modrons marched in neat, orderly lines through the various walk ways and between the book cases. Without destroying a single object, the modrons appeared out the other end of the library and continued on their way.

Bobby McAction Pants was in charge of the orphanage, where a number of the kids were trapped, scared, on the second floor. One of the collapsed building was leaning against the orphanage and it was threatening to collapse at any moment. Bobby, with the greatest of care, fashioned a rope ladder out one of the windows and carried some of the younger ones down and helped the older ones down some stairs by holding their hands. The entire orphanage was emptied just as Kale met up with her. Getting the kids to safety, they hurried off to the temple to see what they could do to help.

At the temple, a few guards were holding spears against the March and refused to let them trample the site of worship for one of their greatest heroes. Norbys and Nearin met with with Kale and Bobby and tried to convince the guards to stand down. After promising to rebuild the temple, the guards stepped to the side and the March continued on its way to the docks.

At the docks, the modrons proceeded to dismantle a number of ships and the docks themselves in order to build a massive bridge off into the middle of the air where it would meet with the Gate to Excelsior.

With the March's passing, the town rejoiced that there were no casualties. The town could be rebuild, but lives lost would have been a true tragedy. The PCs were lauded as heroes and told they were always welcome in Heart's Faith. Cauldronborn, barely regaining conciousness from the quiton's blows, thanked the PCs personally for their heroism and selflessness in the face of danger. At this, the sword archon appeared and thanked the PCs for their work and presented them with their rewards. She then directed them along the fastest route to Omyriel, where they had a package to deliver.

The journey to Omryiel was extremely fast, and they arrived their in the evening. They were able to quickly locate Lamplighter, a warden archon, and present him with the small, black figurine. Sighing heavily, he took the item from the PCs and took out from his stachel a small box. Opening the box, he showed the PCs a single, golden, glowing, perfect shard. A literal piece of the Positive Energy Plane. Anyone who looks into it witnesses a beautiful image of their heart's desire. The shard was to be delivered to Zithere, who had initially hired the PCs.

I had each of the PCs look into the Shard and describe their perfect moment. I can't recall what every one said, but hopefully I can have them remind me of them.

Observing that Lamplighter was sad to loose the Shard, the PCs offered to stay one night in Omyriel so he could spend one more day with it. Over joyed at this, Lamplighter showed the PCs to their lavish rooms, promising to reward their generosity.

The next morning, while handing the players the Shard, Lamplighter also presented each of the PCs with a simple trinket as a token of his happiness. He also directed them to the portal in the nearby Katsudarma that would take them back to the Clerk's Ward. I let each of the PCs decide what their trinket would do, stating that it only had to be a small but potentially useful magic item. For example, Kale chose to have his be jewelry for his horns that allowed them to change color.

The PCs made their way back to Sigil and met the archon at the Whole Note Inn to deliver her the Shard. Over joyed with their success, she gave each of the PCs a magic item which they might find useful for future jobs.

This was a really complicated adventure to run as it was truly an adventure inside of another adventure. I wrote the wrapper adventure, Archon's Mail, which seemed to work out really well. The "side-quest" was Chapter 2 of The Great Modron March titled "The Unswerving Path." The PCs seemed to really love this adventure and my fishing went over really well. Each player took a really long time deciding on their trinkets and then presented them to the rest of the group at the next session. This was also an example a group splitting the party (multiple times!) and it working out in the end. The inter-party conflict stuff over whether to help the sword archon with the modrons was very fun and provided a great opportunity for the players to really explore how their characters would react to that kind of a scenario. This would come up more and more with each subsequent adventure.

Sadly, this also represented Xanros' last adventure, declaring that "he needed to find himself." He is still remembered to this day as an extremely important member of Plane-atary Express.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hope for the Hopeless

The players started the session by divvying up rooms in their new two floor, one basement home. They also spend a good deal of time purchasing decorations for their rooms: Bobby McAction Pants buys a lot of posters of "famous rangers," Kale buys a bunch of beautiful plants from the Beastlands, Xanros buys a large selection of mirrors, Norbys set up a series of lightning rods on the roof that led down into his laboratory of a room, and Nearin assembled a selection of curio cabinets where she displays the trinkets and mementos of all her journeys.

Eventually, the group returned to Plane-atary Express for their next job. Standing in the entry way, talking to Balial, was a tired looking old man named Azathel. Azathel is hiring Plane-atary Express to recover a lost instrument of his, Zorba's Calm. Zorba's Calm is a powerful magic horn which creates a zone of peace and calm around the user. A few years ago he lent it to a man named Parseless Stonethief who has since died without returning it. He promises a handsome reward if the players get it back. The only thing Azathel knows about what happened to Parseless is that his skull can be found at the Bones of the Night (see In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil). The Bones of the Night is too close to the Hive and Azathel fears too much for his own safety to go there on his own.

The Bones of the Night is an underground shop located near the Ditch between the Lower Ward and the Hive. On the way to the Bones of the Night, the players were waylaid by a small group of Hivers next to the Ditch. They were dispatched easily. The players hunted down the entrance to the shop, out of which comes the faint sound of rats chittering. As the first character slowly climbed down the ladder, the sound got fainter and fainter until it died out completely when they reached the end. The group all descend into the shop where they were greeted by walls covered in shelves of skulls and skulls, ranging from human to tiefling to baatezu. Sitting in an overstuffed plush chair near one of the shelves was Lothar the Old, the proprietor of the establishment. Lothar slowly got up and addressed the party, asking their business.

A deal was struck and the players were able to interrogate the skull of Parseless. It turned out that Parseless was little more than a petty thief who had taken the horn in order to rob the githzerai Yozari. However he was horribly unsuccessful and now resides as a skull in the Bones of the Night. He tells the PCs that Yozari lives in Hopless, the gate town to the Grey Wastes. He is also able to tell them that a bridge over the Ditch is a portal to just outside Hopeless but only tells them that the key is "a hopeless quest" with no more details.

The party departed the Bones of the Night and decided to find a place to sleep for the night before heading off to Hopeless. Luckily, the Shattered Temple is near by and Kale could most likely secure lodging for the group as long as they remain on best behavior. Coming to the Temple in darkness, the guards let the party in under Kale's watch and take them to a series of small temporary quarters. Standing in the center of the Temple, glowing with preternatural light, stood a beautiful and old tree. This site was too much for Nearin who later that night snuck out and ventured to touch it. With just a simple touch, she was blasted back from the tree as if by powerful magics and it nearly killed her. However, she can now claim to have touched the tree of the Shattered Temple!

The next day, the party spent some time thinking about Parseless' statement that the key to to the portal was a "hopeless quest." A period of wandering, asking around, and thought reveals to them that Parseless must be talking about the Post in front of the Mortuary! The Post is a zombie that stands immobile and people affix various notes with requests, rewards, and such. Many of these notes are left there until the marks on the papers have faded with rain and age. The party headed to the Post and grabbed a few of the older notes that sit buried under the mass of newer requests. Using these hopeless quests, the party was able to pass under the bridge over the Ditch and appear at the opening to Hopeless.

Hopeless is a single spiral from the screaming mouth of an entrance to the gate to the Grey Wastes, is rather simple to explore (see A Player's Primer to the Outlands). However, the populace are very dour and reluctant to talk much if at all. Also, the law of Hopeless is that anyone wearing harsh contrast or bright colors can be killed on sight for the eyes of the residents of Hopeless cannot stand their site. Because of this, Kale was forced to conceal is green coloring.

The party entered the first tavern on the spiral, the Castle of Bone. Asking around for Yozari, the players aroused the attention of a group of githyanki warriors. They menace the players a bit and demanded why they were searching for Yozari. The players were able to convince the githyanki to leave them be, which cased to them to leave the tavern in a huff. The players the split up, half of the tailing the githyanki and the other half checking the rest of the taverns.

The group that explored each of the taverns, after visiting the Defenestrated Paladin and the Open Tomb, was able to learn that Yozari could be found in the Palace of Thingol, mayor of Hopeless. They also learned that Thingol is an artist of great renown who frequently puts on public displays of flaying or various living sculptures in the center of the town.

The group following the githyanki follow them around the spiral but lost them down an alleyway near the Open Tomb. Meeting up with the rest of the group leaving the Open Tomb, the group was waylaid by the githyanki warriors. Their leader screams at them that they will be have Yozari's head and they can't stop them. The battle was rather short, and the leader's warriors were slain with ease and the leader captured and subdued. Demanding that she stand down and leave them be, the leader refused and was was slain. With her magic blade in tow, the group sped along toward Thingol's Palace. After the fight, I casually said "A Beholder floats by," causing all the players to freeze out of game. Great moment.

Approaching Thingol's Palace, the party was stopped by the two passive guards slumped in front of one of the doors who refuse to let them enter. A bit of negotiating later with an appeal to their inherent apathy, claiming to be a group hired by Thingol, and a decent bribe the group was let in. As they entered into the palace, they were greeted by the sustained sound of music echoing through the halls. They followed the sound until it led them down a hall to Yozari's room. The music had ended and the sound was the echo of her last performance. Entering into the room, Yozari sat cross-legged on the ground. The wall to her left was covered in all sorts of instruments from horns to drums to guitars. The wall to her right was covered in all manner of blades ranging from very tiny to unbelievably large. Yozari herself, dressed plainly, visibly twitched and opened her eyes revealing the madness behind them. In a wavering and nearly mad voice, she demanded to desires of the group. They cautiously negotiated for Zorba's Calm, offering the githyanki blade in return and a word of caution in regards to her supposed assassins. She deemed this acceptable and bid the party to leave.

Back in Sigil, the party met up with Azathel at the agreed upon location, the Fortune's Wheel in the Lady's Ward (see In The Cage: A Guide to Sigil). Upon returning the horn, they requested that Azathel play for them, to which he gladly agreed. Placing the horn to his lips, he let loose a clear and beautiful note, which instantly quieted the loud tavern. Minutes of pure peace followed as Azathel played for them. Afterwards, as the sound slowly faded from the room, it erupted into applause at the beautiful event. Happy with the quality of their work, the players were paid in full.

A few of the characters had really strong reactions to the despair of Hopeless. Kale, with his love of green and fancy clothing was very unhappy with having to cover up his dyed fur lest he get attacked. Norbys almost "reveled" in the despair, if a Bleaker could revel, and was able to engage a lot of the NPCs in the pointlessness of it all. Nearin enjoyed the descriptions of the "art installations" that Thingol creates at the center of Hopeless. Bobby was unhappy with the sadness and found it most unexciting. All of them were visibly afraid of what Yozari could do to them.

Unlike the previous adventures, I wrote this one myself. Hopeless was really fun to run and I took advantage of a truly dreary tone when voicing all the tavern NPCs. Letting the players have a bit more time in Sigil as part of the job was really fun, though I'm glad the focus was still a jaunt to a planar locality.