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.