Little Tower on the Far Realm

Session 3
Ravenous

And so the heroes came face to face with the first of their Slavers, the Ravener of Kolum, who had apparently been the bane of Corrigan D’Urgann back when they’d both resided there. The party came to the top of the Lighthouse and found the Ravener there with a small group of Githyanki thugs as well as some sort of crystal that served as the Lighthouse’s illumination source, sending a radiant beacon through the Astral Plane to bring in Githyanki ships to serve the slavers.

The Ravener initially appeared in his human-sized corpulent form, taunting the heroes from behind a Githyanki shield wall and blasting them from the other side of the apex floor. As the enslaved fought their way through the chaff and cut down the Ravener, his skin cracked and released the pair of massive demons inhabiting it. The two seemed to gain strength by proximity to one another, but the heroes were able to separate and kill them. At one point, the heroes were almost overwhelmed, but from below, a wail echoed throughout the caverns of the Rat People and up into the Lighthouse, inspiring the heroes to one final resurgence and, ultimately, victory. As the Raveners fell, the protagonists felt the skin on their back burn and tear as the first of their eight tattoos faded away. Additionally, Percy and Lanathel, the dealers of the last blows to the first and second forms respectively, felt a bit of Resonance with their former lives seep into their current beings, although what exactly that meant was unclear…


Encounter 4 — BOSS FIGHT

The Ravener – Level 13 Solo (4000 xp)
first form – Gaj Pain Tyrant – Level 13 Elite Artillery
second form – Brohg Renegade (x2) – Level 13 Solo (halve all hps, take down to Elite)
Githyanki Legionary x4 – Level 13 Minion Soldier (700 xp)
Githyanki Raider x1 – Level 13 Skirmisher (800 xp)
Cinder Zombie x1 (reskinned as demon) – Level 12 Soldier (700 xp)

Initially this encounter was supposed to only include a single Brohg / Ravener 2nd form, but the PCs mopped through the first form and minions a bit more quickly than expected (I think there was one other monster I tossed in here initially but don’t have it in my notes — either way, it was a bit underpowered in phase 1) and it was clear that there would need to be a slight ramp-up of the challenge. So, I doubled the second form and created, on the fly, a little gameplay wrinkle wherein the Raveners got a 1 hit/3 damage when within 3 squares of each other and a 2 hit/ 6 damage when adjacent. I also decided that I’d give the sole survivor the latter bonus, once the first died off. Percy’s spiked chain sliding abilities managed to split the two up to prevent the bonus in the initial stages and even slid one of the two Raveners in front of the lighthouse beacon, causing it a fair amount of radiant damage. The game also gave the first hints of the Resonance mechanic, which would be explained in the next session.

The Rat People provided some assistance in the encounter with a one-time power card I gave the players called “Ululations of the Rat People” — they knew it was a one-time power that was triggered when a character went to 0 hit points and that triggered some sort of burst. So, for dramatic purposes, they chose when to activate it when the need was greatest — at that point, the Rat People sacrificd their life essence in one great wail from below to give the falling hero and all allies within a close burst 10 a surge which they spent immediately, followed by some small attack and damage bonuses for the following round. The “story power” worked well and will be something I reutilize in various forms down the line.

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Session 2
Lighthouse for the Lost

The narrative on this game was fairly brief as it largely consisted of the PCs arriving on the other end of the portal in the Lighthouse where the Harvester had fled. The Lighthouse structure itself is unassuming, grey brick with light streaming in from windows lining its cylindrical interior. The Harvester’s corpse collapses onto a large round table in the room’s center and the party takes a short rest. As the heroes rise to proceed up the spiral staircase that leads up along the lighthouse’s side to its apex, a welcoming party of gelatinous creatures and githyanki materialize to challenge their ascent.

The party made its way to the second level of the lighthouse where they found a laboratory with what appeared to be The Ravener tattooing an arcane shackle onto the back of a clone of Percy. The Ravener looked up and smirked, stated something about the party arriving just in time to greet another completed work, and then set Percy to work. Both Lanathel and Belfour were nearly overrun by the swarm of dretches that came to the Ravener’s aid, but the party managed to repel the initial onslaught. Lanathel discovered that there was some sort of illusion emanating from the lab table that she’d teleported near after the first wave of dretch hit. A quick survey of the table revealed a crystal globe which seemed to be the source of the spell and, one quick smashing later, the “Ravener” was revealed to be a salt golem, “Percy” a chain demon, and the back wall faded away to reveal the Ravener. After a bit of taunting, the Ravener fled through the walls and hovered up to the Lighthouse’s top layer, leaving the party to question whether to lick their wounds and allow him to escape or to press onward despite several of their number being near death.


Encounter 2 — The Welcoming Party
Encounter Level: Standard — Level +1 (5450 xp)

Monsters:
Primordial Muck — Reskinned Elemental Ooze x1 – Level 12 Brute (700 XP)
Gelatinous Mother — Reskinned Oblivion Moss Mindmaster – Level 12 Elite Controller (1400 XP)
Half-Formed Heroes — Reskinned Mosslings x6 – Level 12 Minion Variable (1050 XP)
Githyanki Mindslicer x2 – Level 13 Artillery (1600 XP)
Battle Troll – Level 12 Soldier (700 XP)

Traps:
None

Special Terrain:
None (aside from a 10 × 10 table of difficult terrain and a stairway leading up)

This battle was supposed to be a bit of a warmup without a lot of frills. The group focused in very quickly on the primordial ooze and then moved on to the gelatinous mother. Initially the mindslicers stood on the stairway and bombarded the group, screened off by the ooze and battle troll, but Percy managed to pull one of them down with his spiked chain while the other fled to the middle of the battlefield. Zefram managed to tank very effectively, keeping the mother in particular from establishing range that she desperately wanted.

Encounter 3 — Little Tattoo Shop of Horrors
Encounter Difficulty: Easy — Level -1 (4150 xp) (50 xp short of Level)

Dretch Lackey x5 – Level 12 Minion Brute (1250 XP)
Tattooed Victim — Reskinned Chained Cambion – Level 10 Controller (500 XP)
Githyanki Revenant Assassin — Reskinned Thrax – Level 11 Lurker (600 XP)
“Tattoo Artist Ravener” — Salt Golem – Level 11 Elite Brute (1200 XP)
Demonic Advisor — Reskinned Nganga – Level 11 Artillery (600 XP)

Traps:
None

Special Terrain:
None (minus a bit of aesthetic illusion which required an Insight Roll of DC 20 (when inside the table’s radius) to spot and a move action to smash)

This was a fight that I knew going in was more challenging than its XP total. Dretches hit hard and have a fairly potent aura that, if you don’t controller-kill them early, make life around them painful. Belfour took a good 60 hps of damage in the first round from their attacks alone. The Salt Golem in conjunction with the control from the Chained Cambion’s aura can tighten up a battlefield and there was a lot of initial difficulty declumping. The “Advisor” went down first which was good as its curse effect on Belfour was really going to prove damaging over the course of the fight. These mobs are mostly from Dark Sun and the challenge level associated with them shows. Again, in both of these fights, I tried to stay low on status effects and selected against too much daze or stun.

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Session 1
Cove of the Forgotten

The PCs awakened in a cavern around a crackling campfire, dressed in their adventuring gear and completely unaware of how they had arrived there. After everyone spent a bit of time backed against the wall and cautiously determining that their fellows in the chamber weren’t planning on killing them, attention turned to the strange itching sensation that each person in the room was experiencing. An examination of their backs determined that each resident of the cavern had the same series of tattoos etched upon their skin in blue ink.

Starting at the base of the spine and going clockwise, the tattoos were as follows:

1) A swirling vortex with a toothy maw at its center.
2) A laughing skull dangling smashed vertebrae.
3) A stylized scarab with a crescent moon upon its back.
4) A book lying open engulfed in flames with magical runes across its pages.
5) A dragon with wings spread, framing the lines of tattoos on either shoulderblade.
6) A windowless tower with an eye at its apex
7) A serene featureless feminine face, eyes closed
8) An indeterminate blob, still apparently forming.

The residents of the cavern were determined to be:

1) Zefram, a Mul Battlemind hailing from Athas
2) Valen of Threshold, a Human Monk hailing from Mystara
3) Belfour, a Human Warlord hailing from Hyperborea
4) Percy Spinereaver, a Half-Orc Fighter hailing from Azeroth
5) Lanathel, a Drow Sorceress hailing from Parts Unknown
6) Teleh, a Half-Elven Invoker hailing from Ravenloft (NPC)
7) Corrigan D’Urgann, a Human Ardent hailing from Kolum (NPC)

The group resolved to discover what powers had brought them here, with Teleh noting that this seemed very similar to what the lords of her realm did. Many of the residents of the room recognized the sigils on their backs to belong to a nemesis who had plagued them in their home realm. The ululations and chittering of the nearby ratmen lurking in the next chamber brought an end to the initial pleasantries and the group began to prepare for combat when they found themselves approached by a light which, as it drew near, revealed itself to be a disembodied floating skull with many of its teeth replaced with sparkling multi-colored gemstones. The creature in question named itself Guide.

After some discussion of the basics of their kidnapping here, Guide escorted the heroes to the Cove of the Forgotten, the location from which their bodies had apparently been harvested. The Elder of the Rat-People explained to the heroes, via Guide’s translation, that their remnants had been fished from the Astral Sea, an inlet of which rushed into this cavern, and fed to the gelatinous masses which reconstituted heroes in preparation for the Final Battle with the denizens of the Far Realm who even now strained against the Gate at the Edge of Eternity. The Elder revealed that the heroes normally slept, awaiting this duty, unable to regain their souls until their time had come but that slavers had come from the nearby city of Sarnath with strange magicks which had allowed them to awaken and enslave these heroes while driving off the Rat-People who guarded them. He implied heavily that this group of heroes was not the first to have been raised here, but that his people had snuck back into the cavern, freed Guide (who was left here as a watcher of sorts and who bore the Dragon tattoo upon his pate), and awakened the heroes from their gelatinous prisons ahead of schedule, but that an attack from the slavers was almost certainly imminent.

This prescience was dramatically followed immediately by a slaver attack. The heroes defeated the slavers and the Harvester who had been sent to lead them, killing all but the Harvester and then leaping through the portal which it created when bloodied in order to return to its lair, a place believed to be the lighthouse overlooking the sea and cove and almost certainly held by Corrigan’s nemesis, a creature called The Ravener, believed to be in service to the Silver Mask of Kolum. So ended the first game.


Encounter design:

Encounter 1
Encounter Level: Hard — Level +2 (5900 xp)

Monsters:

1x Abyssal Basilisk (Level 13 Artillery)
2x Githyanki Warriors (Level 12 Soldier)
1x Displacer Beast Pack Lord aka The Harvester (Level 13 Elite Skirmisher)
4x Moldering Mummy aka Partially-Formed Gelatinous Hero (Level 10 Minion Brute)
1x Demonic Savage Minotaur (Level 11 Brute)

Traps:

None

Special Terrain:

Two levels, one a bridge over the cove’s water with rampways down either side, a pool of water for the inlet below and then flat terrain leading to the various caves of the Rat-People. No special effects or hindrances beyond the pool being difficult terrain.

Notes:

A very “sticky” encounter (with marks and grabs, as opposed to status effects), with the soldiers and the minotaur pinning the party on the bridge and rampways while the abyssal basilisk fired away from below, with a dominate-lite effect on failed saves. The Harvester was held in reserve until Turn 3 for multiple reasons —

1) keeping players from being overwhelmed by opposing forces in a Nova Round 1
2) encouraging players to expend their resources on the lower threats prior to the Harvester showing up.
3) Drama, baby.

PCs spent a few dailies (after being warned that they would need to conserve resources for the lighthouse in the next game) and were bloodied with some frequency, but no PCs (or NPCs) dropped to dying and all monsters destroyed aside from the Harvester (which portaled home and was killed off-camera once Bloodied).

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All Along the Watchtower
Cataloging the Adventures of the Awakened

This page will serve as a log of all games played in the Little Tower campaign, listing them chronologically and covering both the story elements expounded upon in the game as well as the mechanical elements (encounter design) for players/GMs to discuss and comment upon.

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