Picking off gargoyles — hellhounds — shepherds abiding in the hills — Harburk the Impaler — videogame excursus.
The bit when the party returns to Red Larch and finds that Harburk (“Hauberk” in our game) has taken over with Jalessa as mayor—that’s not really in the book. Not with as many umlauts anyway.
Here’s what the book says (emphases and bracketed comments mine):
. . . the folk of Red Larch are scandalized to learn that many of their most respected fellow citizens were part of a secret cabal. This discovery launches a whirlwind of gossip, innuendo, and recrimination. The other citizens of Red Larch shun the Believers for the next several months [months??? how long do they expect this game to go?], and the Believers turn against one another. Many retreat into seclusion. Leadership of Red Larch passes to Harburk, but he’s too busy as constable. After a month [?], Jalessa Ornra becomes Red Larch’s mayor. She’s liked and known for common sense, so the townsfolk rally around her.
But that’s obviously not what I did.
One, because you literally can’t present that. People recover quickly in this game. A night’s rest, and you’re back in business. No way this campaign is going to last in-game months.
Two, that’s boring, maybe?
So I decided to have Harburk take a very extreme line on this cult security business.
BECAUSE I WANTED TO SEE WHAT THE PLAYERS WOULD DO
I find that the quality of games improves if you try to cultivate a genuine sense of curiosity about the world and the player characters, but specifically the player characters. Think, “I wonder what would happen if they X,” and then show them X and find out.
Below the monastery — a guest star arrives — a tremendous encounter — amicable interrogation — information is the sharpest blade of all. Guest starring Josh via Hangouts.
There’s some great stuff in this episode.
The fight at the end is perhaps dependent on GM judgment to reproduce—but, obviously, I think it’s the right call.
Specifically (***spoilers***), our new fighter (played by guest star Josh), rushed in to the boss’s chamber and grappled him. I ruled that because of that, players who started in range of the boss’s gaze attack didn’t have to make their save. Maybe, per a strict reading of the rules, there should have been some other step before that should have been mechanically possible, but I couldn’t be bothered to look up and parse the details of the grappling rules in the moment.
In any case, this episode shows the incredible value of negotiation with monsters. It’s becoming a thing: episode 10 featured the same thing. Sometimes not killing monsters, even when you can without any risk of serious resource depletion, is worth the effort.
NOTE: when you are running a cult prophet, be sure to look at the writeup of their signature weapon in the appendix. It has stuff it can do that’s not listed in the prophet’s statblock.
When it looks like clearing the rest of the Sacred Stone monastery will proceed without incident, a tactical retreat by the monsters forces them into a tricky negotiation.
We fight gargoyles for 45 minutes. That’s all this episode is. However, it does showcase the lovely abuse potential of the heallock build.
I’m not the expert on the build; so I’ll just talk about what it does and, generally, how.
It’s a warlock / cleric multiclass build.
Tim is playing Gallidon, a half-elf, level 4 at the moment, evenly split between cleric and warlock. Not sure about domain or pact.
Here’s the point, though:
- Your warlock spell slots refresh each short rest.
- You can use your short-rest-refreshing slots to cast any spell you know
- Including cleric spells
- Which means you’re a never-ending healing battery and never run out of heal spells
In the episode you can see this at work. There happens to be, at this point in the module, little threat of wandering monsters, which means short rests are readily available.
After the first fight with the gargoyles, the party retreats and rests and can heal up without expending any HD. After the second fight, the same.
A bit situational, but pretty powerful, and that’s just one feature of the build. There may be others, but I don’t delve too deeply into that part of the game.
The party encounters the Abbess, the big boss of the Sacred Stone monastery, and there’s a pretty tactically interesting fight. When I see the way the tide is turning, I have her retreat, and it’s a game of cat and mouse from there.
And, at the end of the episode, someone lies dying—BUT WHO!?!?
|eastern temple layout
|fighting the abbess