Wednesday, 5 March 2014

WB2, Session 15: Climbing the Food Chain

Session 15: "Climbing the Food Chain"
Saturday 17th, April 1001 AC
(destiny token 1)


  • Urist, dwarven cleric of Kagyar (level 3)
  • Rurik, dwarven fighter (level 3)
  • Zao-rin, human monk (level 3)
  • Danik, human scholar mage (level 3)
  • Serrin, human bounty hunter (level 3), still recuperating in the village
Lost companions
  • Grom, half-orc druid, went missing during dragon attack.
  • Adran, gnome bard, fell to his death after being dropped by a Drahie.

And so the companions had made it back to the Simphiwe village. There, they found Danik up and awake though Serrin would still be out of commission for a bit.

After a rest, they shared breakfast in Manelesi's hut, discussing their situation. Urist, still perplexed by many of the recent events, asked the young woman to clarify a couple things:

  • Her low chanting is apparently a form of prayer she does when someone mentions something she's not used to hear, to re-affirm her respect and submission to "He We are Of", the black dragon they call Ziphozonke.
  • They don't seem to use any herbal medicine, relying instead of the someone called Nozizwe, who can heal apparently, and lived in a large hut near the middle of the village
  • They seem to use leathery scarf to protect themselves against the spores of the "walking mushrooms", also called Basitiomids. According to Manelesi, the small ones are not dangerous but the bigger ones are.
Wanting to learn more, the group then went out to see if they could meet this Nozizwe. Near the center of the village, passing the group of five women doing their strange rituals in the charred circle, they soon arrived at the woman's hut, of the same making of the other but slightly larger. Outside, near the entrance, were a lot of tools and ornaments made of silver, very old and crudely worked and clearly not made by the Simphiwe themselves.

Urist was the first to cross the threshold, pushing aside the heavy leather curtain. All followed but Rurik who stood guard outside.

The inside of the hut was quite different from the almost non existent decorum of most of the huts in the village. The walls were covered with large animal skins and leathery curtains, mostly charred black. In the center, was a large chair facing the entrance, with bits and pieces of silver all around it. On it, an old woman half covered by a hooded cloak made of some kind of blue leather that also had been charred on the outside.

As the companions took their place in the hut, Danik and Zao-Rin noticed something odd about the old woman: Here and there on her exposed skin were small dark patches, similar to very small black scales.

Urist spoke first and soon Danik and Zao-rin joined in, each with their own questions, and looking for their own answers. The old woman was apparently waiting for them and answered most of the questions, though not always in words they could understand.

  • She seems to consider that the Simphiwe have always been in this place and belong to the black dragon though the meaning of this "belonging" was left vague.
  • She seems very interested in the "other places" the companions talked of, having a hard time believing them and yet apparently forced to admit it due to their obvious different nature and uniqueness in the cave, as well as their recent arrival.
  • She considers the cave ceiling as their "sky" and while Urist tried to explain what a sky was and the nature of the cave, Nozizwe mostly dismissed the notion.
  • She seemed strongly devoted to the black dragon called Ziphozonke and apparently considers it as the absolute master and ruler of the land.
As the discussion went by and the companions tried to explain the nature of the cave they were currently in and the world above, the fact that the ceiling was not a skin, but more like a roof, the old woman suddenly seem to come to the realization that the black dragon was actually trying to "break the sky" and that alarmed her greatly.

She urged the group of leave immediately. As they reached the outside of the hut, Nozizwe looked up to the cave ceiling, toward the northeast of the village and Rurik noticed something odd with her eyes for just a second: They changed from human eyes to reptilian eyes, then back.

For a long time, the group stood there, outside Nozizwe's hut, and loudly debated on the nature of divinities and what it entailed, The rational of Danik clashing with the Divine mind of Urist while Rurik and Zao-rin tried to calm them. Many of the villagers seemed distraught at the discussion that was disturbing their peace and quiet and soon they were all making wide circles around the group, as if hoping not to get caught in the middle.

Finally, Zao-rin suggested that if the black dragon was indeed trying to get out of the cave, maybe they should go and talk with it and even combine forces for a time. That took some convincing but in the end, Urist also agreed and the companions gathered their gear and left the village, heading East.

The journey took about 10 hours. First east toward the lake and while at one point Rurik apparently spotted a hooded figure walking into a nearby mushroom forest, the journey was uneventful. Once at the lake, the companions pushed north once again.
Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual, Gary Gygax, 1977

As they were reaching the end of the grassland hills, Rurik, who was keeping watch, sensed that they were being stalked and immediately the group took defensive positions. As Zao-rin moved about in the middle of the tall blades of the strange grass, he was suddenly attacked by a large black feline, with two tentacles on it's back.

As combat erupted, the feline's form seem to blur sometimes, making it harder to hit though that hardly phased the monk who hit it in a rapid fire of hand strikes within seconds. With Danik releasing Kilek and funneling magic through the bird, Rurik wielding his large battleaxe and Urist unleashing Radiant Flames, the tentacled black beast clearly realized the mistake it had made but as it seemed ready to bolt, a cacophony of shrills came from the east, sending the big cat in a clear state of fear.

Soon, the battlefield was pure chaos. Swarms of tiny blues creatures emerged from the tall grass all around the companions, threatening to overcome Zao-rin, Urist and Rurik. The feline, who had disengaged and was running south, was attacked by something and was now backtracking at full speed, heading north, completely ignoring the companions, thinking only about survival.

Fighting the swarm with weapons proved a challenge, their very diffuse nature making blows less effective while they could hinder and overcome you easily. Realizing this, Danik jumped in and let loose a couple of spells. Thunder-wave proved the most efficient as dozens of the tiny blue shrilling creatures exploded.

From the south, after the feline, came a large creature, blue as well but the size of a big dog. Standing only on two back legs, it had a horrible maw made of three massive jaws. It rushed after the big cat first, but realized that the companions were the the current threat and turned on them then. As it let loose an ear-splitting shrill sounding like "TWEEEEK!", it's eyes locked onto Danik's and immediately the mage fell to the ground, convulsing for a moment.

It was bloody but in the end, the group prevailed, injured but alive. The swarms had been dispatched and the large blue creature now laid dead, taken mid-run by Urist's Radiant Flames as it was trying to escape. 

As silence returned on the grassland, the companions decided to find a safe place to take some rest and bandage their wounds...

Post Session Notes:
  • After being dogged by them for about three or four sessions now, party finally met with the Voracious Shrillers. Was designed as a tough encounter and think it was so quite happy about it. Danik and Urist used a lot of spells and Thunder-wave proved, once again, to be a very good spell. Bit too many "effects" slowed down pacing a bit, but that big combat was barely an hour long despite it's complexity so I'm good with that.
  • I usually handle all "random" things during prep, before session. Things like weather, random encounters, dragon events and whatnot, I sort through them before we start and keep a list ready by area. I had this double encounter cooked up a long time ago and glad it finally came up. The idea of a Displacer Beast  AND Voracious Shrillers stalking the PCs, and competing for them was good fun in my mind and it turned out to be. I giggled like a little girl when I had the Displacer Beast appear scared by the shrills and Rurik said "That's a bad sign".

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