DnD – Cave of Conscience Encounters 5 – 7

Encounter 5 (800 XP) – After the group took care of the ice spiders, they followed the floating ice path down a winding hallway.  With a dungeoneering DC18, they noticed that the path was beginning to angle downwards.  A nature DC18 also showed them that the water around the ice path was beginning to rush faster and splash over the path, making it quite slippery, now difficult terrain.  They could try to pass an acrobatics DC15 to move normally.  If they failed by 5 or more, they fell prone for the remainder of their turn.  As the path wound on, they came across a very narrow, long section with four merloc looking ice creatures standing near the end.  Once visual contact was made, roll initiative!

There were two different sets of merlocs:

Melee Merlocs:

  • AC:22, Fort:22, Ref:17, Will:18
  • Init +2, Speed 4
  • HP 68
  • Attack Melee: Frost Shock – +11 VS Will, 2D4+4, immobilized save ends
  • Attack Melee: Slippery Push – +10 VS AC, 2D4+3, slide target 1
  • Can move normally on slippery surfaces

Ranged Merlocs:

  • AC:20, Fort:20, Ref:19, Will:23
  • Init +0, Speed 3
  • HP 60
  • Attack Ranged 10: Dazed and Confused – +10 VS Will, 1D10+4, dazed save ends
  • Attack Ranged 10: Frost Coating – +12 VS Fort, 1D12+4, slowed save ends
  • Can move normally on slippery surfaces

Another fun part of this encounter is the water on either side of the platform.  During this point of the river, it really began rushing and splashing violently; enough that once per round, a giant wave would crash over a two block sections of the walkway.  The icy water would hit any character in it as such: melee +13 VS Fort, 2D6+5 (miss 1/2 damage), push 2.  If you fell off the path into the water (which is only 5 feet deep but moving swiftly), at the beginning of your turn you make two checks.  The first is an endurance check to withstand the cold of the water.  If you beat a DC15, you’re fine.  Fail by 4 or less, you are slowed until the end of your next turn.  Fail by 5 or more and in addition to being slowed, you take 2D4 cold damage.  Then to see if you can move against the strong current, you make an athletics check.  DC20 to move at 1/2 speed.  If you fail by 4 or less, you can’t move but are fighting the current and remain stationary.  If you fail by 5 or more, you are pushed 5 squares down the flow, which can end up being deadly.  Around the corner of this path (which is only 8 squares long), there is another 8 square straight away.  At the end of that is a cliff with a 50 foot drop.

The PC’s were able to handle this encounter better than I thought.  Only one person fell into the drink, and he saved versus both checks. 

Encounter 6 (1,000 XP) – This is a two-part encounter.  The first part is a skill / tactics situation, and immediately following it, a combat encounter begins.  The skill check is to see how the PC’s get down the 50 foot waterfall.  A part of the problem is that the water is falling into the first lava pit of this mountain, which turns out to be a volcano (thanks for telling them, Chief!).  A perception DC22 shows the characters that there are giant clusters of the blue crystals on the top of the cave above the lava (even though they are large, they are that difficult to notice because the water into the lava is causing a bit of mist).  With a perception DC25, the PCs think they can do some ranged attacks to knock down series of the these clusters into the lava and stand on them.  I made the blocks not terribly difficult to break (AC:18, HP10).  I crafted four 2×3 blocks to fall about one square apart so that there isn’t a clear “bridge” to the other side of the lava pit.  Once the blue crystals were on the water, the PC’s climbed down a rope (except for Paladin Paul, who fell and took 4D10 damage…ouch).  They then got creative, which I gave them some extra XP for.  Our druid changed into a bird, grabbed an end of the rope, with the other end being held onto by a PC on the cluster.  The bird then basically dragged the blocks into one another until they had created a bridge themselves. 

What I was thinking the PC’s may do, other than try to jump over lava, was do an arcane check on the crystals since they are supposed to be studying them anyway.  A DC25 would have revealed that these crystals possess teleportation properties.  Anyone touching the platform when someone beats an Arcane skill DC 28 (which PC’s can assist with) will be teleported to another blue crystal cluster of the skill user’s choice.  But I like my PC’s thinking out of the box, so kudos on the bird taxi idea.

Once they were on solid ground, they realized it was rock, not ice, and that there were now two rock elementals charging at them.  They looked similar to and behaved just like the ice creatures; the only difference was that they were made out of the rock they were standing on.

There was again a melee creature and a ranged creature:

Melee Rock Elemental:

  • AC:25, Fort:20, Ref:17, Will:18
  • Init +1, Speed +5
  • HP: 130
  • Resist Fire 10
  • Attack Melee: Rocky Slap – +9 VS AC, 1D10+4
  • Attack Ranged Close Burst 1: Ground and Pound – Recharge 5/6, +12 VS Fort, 2D6+6 (miss 1/2 damage) and targets knocked prone
  • If hit by Lava Rocks (see below) or pushed into lava flow, gains +1D4 fire damage to all attacks and deals +1D6 fire damage to anyone who hits with a melee attack against him

Ranged Rock Elemental:

  • AC:20, Fort:21, Ref:20, Will:19
  • Init +3, Speed 5
  • HP 68
  • Resist Fire 10
  • Ranged Attack 10: Rock Toss – +10 VS Ref, 1D10+5, on crit target dazed save ends
  • Ranged Attack Burst 1 within 5: Rock Prison – Recharge 5/6, +12 VS Ref, 1D8 and legs encased in Rock Prison.  You are immobilized until you destroy the rock.  Break DC:25, or AC:20, HP10.
  • If hit by Lava Rocks (see below) or pushed into lava flow, gains +1D4 fire damage to all attacks and deals +1D6 fire damage to anyone who hits with a melee attack against him

The other part of this battle was that there was a spell trap.  The PC’s ran right past it, triggering it.  The arcane to notice was DC22, DC25 to deactivate.  Once you enter the squares it was on (or if fail by 5 or more to trigger), the lava around the platform began to bubble and burst.  Once per round, a lava rock would shoot into the air.  I made the platform 4 squares x 8 squares.  That way there were eight 2×2 sections.  I would roll a D8 and the rock would land on that section the next round (therefore the PCs had a one round warning).  If hit by the lava rock, the attack was +13 VS Ref, 2D6+4, ongoing 5 fire.  The 2×2 area then became difficult terrain, and if you entered it or began your turn inside it, you took 2d4 fire damage.

What was fun for me is that before the PCs were able to do a successful nature check on the elementals and learn about the buff they get from lava, they slid one of them into the path of the falling rock and the other into the lava itself.  So both of the enemies got the buff almost right away.  Huzzah!

Encounter 7 (850 XP) – This next one was a personal favorite of mine to create.  The platform that the PC’s are currently standing on after finishing encounter 6 has no clear doorway off of it.  However, there is a cliff face going up another 50 feet.  Our druid turned into a bird once again and flew up to investigate.  What he found was a room 7×7 squares in size, and in the room, close to evenly spaced throughout, were six large blue crystal pillars.  Each pillar took up an entire square and they were as tall as the ceiling (15 feet).  The druid then tried to take a 100 foot rope and tie it around the pillar.  But once he touched the pillar, a blue crystalline hand shot out and hit him.  He then carefully went far around the pillar and just draped the rope over the edge.  They then used the rope like a pulley system.  Instead of figuring out the exact math of Str checks and how much each character weighs, one PC recommended that each PC who is pulling the rope can assist the character being pulled in an athletics check to climb the wall.  The first person up was our paladin tank.  He pulled himself up onto a square right next to a crystal pillar, so he too got smacked by the crystal hand, and since he was permanently on the top, roll init!

There were two crystal monsters in this battle, but each has the same stats:

  • AC:24, Fort:24, Ref:16, Will:26
  • Init +6, Speed 4
  • HP 46
  • Minor Action – Touch a crystal pillar, teleport within and between any of the six pillars
  • If inside a crystal pillar, creatures are invulnerable and can’t be detected
  • Melee Attack: Force Punch – +9 VS Ref, 2D6+2
  • Ranged Close Burst 2: Crystalline Pulse – Recharge 6, +12 VS Will, 2D10+4, weakened save ends

As you might be able to tell, the hard part of this encounter is hitting the guys themselves.  Their tactics are to stay within the crystals and just bitch slap people if they are standing near the pillars, also teleporting around to confuse them.  I organized the layout of the room so that there were only 8 possible squares to stand on where you aren’t adjacent to a pillar, but then you were still within the 2 sq Crystalline Pulse.  However, if all PCs are not adjacent to the pillars and their Pulse hasn’t recharged, the enemies do jump out of the crystals and attack.  They can’t retreat back into a crystal until the next turn.

Another way to get an enemy out is to get rid of the pillars themselves.  They are easily hit (I just gave them a straight Defense of 16 across the board) and only 18HP.  However, each hit deals 1/2 damage back to the attacker.  And when the crystals are destroyed, the magical energies within them burst and violently shatter the pillars into many shrapnel fragments, which creates a Ranged attack close burst 2: +14 VS Ref, 2D12+8 (miss 1/2 damage).  Because the zone is in such close quarters, the first PC or two got hurt pretty badly once they started attacking the pillars.  If a creature is inside a pillar when it explodes, he appears in the space the pillar was and is dazed until the end of his next turn.

Another fun fact of the encounter was when the PCs realized with the same previous arcane check that these pillars can be used for them to teleport around also.  That is also how one of the PCs got up on the platform.  Some random pieces of a broken pillar landed on the bottom of the cliff, and the sorcerer used it to teleport up into the fray!

After the battle, they realized there was no clear exit.  So they started doing random checks around the room.  They realized with Arcane DC28 that one of the back pillars, thankfully still intact, is magically linked to another area of the mountain.  These crystals work like the previous ones, where you can arcane assist and teleport with each other (thus helping the non-arcane skill users get around).

Where did the crystal teleport them to?  The players will find out next week…

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MSM – Placement is key

“Don’t put it there, then I can’t get in!”

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MSM – How do you like taking your vaccinations?

“Shots in the ass aren’t that bad; you just have to be really relaxed.”

Trevsey, after taking the obvious shot in the ass.

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DnD – Cave of Conscience Encounters 1 – 4 (level 5 PCs)

Encounter 1 (500 XP) – The first encounter was a fairly simple set of skill or reasoning checks.  The entrance to the cave and first room was VERY slippery.  In order to use a move action normally, they needed to succeed in a DC20 acrobatics check.  If they failed by 5 or more, they fell prone.  If they failed by less than 5, they simply could only move half their speed.  Matt got around this because his Druid beast form is a swarm of bugs (clever man).  Mr. Monk Jamison of course didn’t have too much difficulty.  The rest of the party thought about having Becky cast Tensor’s Floating Disk and just carrying them across like a taxi one at a time, but then it dawned on them: just crawl at 1/2 speed.  So they did get to the part of the room where they could walk normally.  At this end of the room, it split into two directions: the path to the right-angled upwards and the path to the left went down.  They also noticed with a perception DC18 check that there was a deep, one foot groove in the cave floor running down both hallways, connecting them.

Encounter 2 (850 XP) – The PCs decided to head down into the cave, following the left path.  Upon entering the room, they encountered a large ice construct.  His stats:

  • Large creature
  • AC:23, Fort:25, Ref:17, Will:22
  • Init +3, Speed 5
  • Immune: All damage (see further notes)
  • Attack Melee: Smash – +9 vs AC, 2D6+1
  • Attack Melee: Double Smash – Recharge 5/6, +12 vs AC, 4D8+5 and target knocked prone

You’ll notice he has no HP.  That makes up the interesting portion of this fight.  He is immune to all kinds of damage.  However, if he takes one blast of cold damage, he is slowed.  A second blast of cold damage will shatter him into 10 minions.  The boss is defeated when all 10 minions are killed (minions have no immunities or vulnerabilities).  After 1 full round, the minions all magically teleport back to where they shattered (even if they have an effect on them such as immobilized) and reform into the big boss.  When the boss shatters a second time, there aren’t 10 minions; there are only as many as reformed.  The bosses large creature stats never change, even if only two minions formed him (it’s a game of magic; take the leap of faith).  But if there is only one minion left when the boss would reform, he actually just stays a minion (cause nothing to form together with).  A PC could learn all this with a nature check DC 25 (just the normal check to find information on the monster).

His minion stats are:

  • 10 Minions
  • AC:24, Fort:22, Ref:20, Will:18
  • HP:1
  • Attack Melee: Swat – +10 vs AC, 10 damage
  • When killed, they shatter. Burst 1 – +12 vs Ref, slows target, save ends.
  • Also, on the burst zone, it is now difficult terrain

As the encounter went on, I must admit a failure: I didn’t realize how few cold attacks my PCs had (out of 6 PCs, they had 1 at-will, 1 encounter, and 1 daily power).  I then threw in another part to the battle on the fly so that this wouldn’t destroy them.  With an Arcane check DC24, they noticed four 1-square zones around the room that when standing in them, they can determine the kind of damage their attacks do.  Once that was implemented, the encounter became easy enough and they knocked off the guy no problem.

There was no loot in this room, but with a perception check DC18 they’d notice that the groove went all the way down the middle of this room and ran right up to a wall (note, this groove counts as difficult terrain during the battle).  A nature check DC24 reveals that the wall is not naturally formed and can somehow be broken through.  After trying to throw a few spells or punches at the wall, the PCs decide to see if in the upper room, there is something they can push down the track to knock into the wall.  Clever fellows…

Encounter 3  (1,000 XP) – Upon entering the upper room to the right, they instantly look for the groove and with another perception DC18, they notice it runs right down the middle of the room again.  But what is more obvious than that are four things: one giant boulder at the end of the groove and three ice jaguars prowling around it.  Roll initiative!

The three kitties, as I called them, all have the same stats.  Use a standard nature skill to read about them:

  • AC:18, Fort:19, Ref:21, Will:14
  • Init +6, Speed 8
  • Resist Cold 10
  • HP 48
  • Attack Melee: Charge – +11 vs AC, 1D8+5, target pushed 1 square, the kitty can shift 3 squares after attack.  If enemy is frozen*, increase damage by 1D8 and target is knocked prone
  • Attack Range 5 Burst 1: Freeze – +8 vs Fort, target becomes *frozen.  They are immobilized, Athletics DC19 to break free.  If knocked prone, DC increases to 21.

This battle wasn’t terribly technical.  Just needed to work around being frozen and having the difficult terrain of the groove to navigate in tight quarters around the kitties.  Once they defeated them, they ran up to the boulder and with an athletics DC22, they pushed the boulder down the track.  After 15-20 seconds, they hear a loud crash.  (Fun fact: if they would have gone to this room first and pushed the boulder without investigating the room below, the boulder would have smashed the ice monster and killed him).

Encounter 4 (1,000 XP) – As the PCs go to the hole in the wall, they notice that it leads into a very tall room, and the hole is up near the ceiling!  They are 50 feet above the ground level.  Looking down, they see a room of similar size, but the boulder crashed through the ice on the ground.  There are now five large chunks of ice floating (not really moving though) on channels of water.  With a nature DC20, they’d notice the light in the room is glowing a blue color that is not natural.  This light gives low-light vision to the room.  They also notice two spider-like ice creatures sitting on the ice patches.

I accidentally meta-gamed a bit at this point (big no-no for a DM) and let slip that the encounter will start once someone touches an ice patch on the bottom.  Using this knowledge wisely, they had Becky cast Tensor’s Floating Disk.  Jamison attached a rope to the wall.  And Matt floated down in bug form.  Matt, Jamison, and Tim (who was riding on Becky’s disk) all jumped onto the ice at the same time to start the encounter.  Becky spent the first few rounds playing taxi as she ferried Tom and Adam down to the ice level.  The two ice-spider creatures have different abilities.

Ice Spider 1:

  • AC:22, Fort:19, Ref:21, Will:18
  • HP:95
  • Init +4, Speed 4
  • Attack Melee: Fire Dot – +13 vs AC, 2D6+7 damage plus ongoing 5 fire (this is a special ongoing: must have a 19 or 20 to save versus it unless standing adjacent to a character afflicted with an ongoing 5 ice, then it is a normal save)
  • Attack Melee: Hit and Bounce – +15 vs AC, 2D8+3 damage, Ice Spider 1 may teleport 8 squares away
  • Special Movement: May shift 4 squares if a part of the shift was over water

Ice Spider 2:

  • AC:22, Fort:19, Ref:21, Will:18
  • HP:95
  • Init +4, Speed 2
  • Attack Ranged 10: Ice Dot – +11 vs Will, 2D10 damage plus ongoing 5 ice (this is a special ongoing: must have a 19 or 20 to save versus it unless standing adjacent to a character afflicted with an ongoing 5 fire, then it is a normal save)
  • Attack Ranged 8: Stay There – 11 vs Ref, 1D10+6 damage and target restrained until end of Ice Spider 2’s next turn

The battle itself wasn’t terribly hard.  The ongoing damage was obviously annoying, and they are used to my style of encounters by now, so they knew to skill check the hell out of the area.  They found out about the trick to beating the hard DC right away, but weren’t able to utilize it much because once they got rid of the ongoing fire damage, they killed the caster while the ongoing ice dealer was still near full health.  They were able to take him down pretty handily, but they spent a good 6 or so turns using the heal skill check to give Matt and Adam (who were afflicted with the ongoing ice) either extra saves or the +2 bonus to their next rolls.  They were able to eventually save, but they did take a combined 45 damage between the two of them after the battle had ended.

Another fun part of the encounter was trying to get from ice patch to ice patch.  Some could jump, some used a teleport, some the floating disk.  But sadly, Tom and Adam fell in the water.  This water is COLD and slightly magical.  You needed to roll an endurance skill check once you were in the water and at the beginning of your turn.  It was a DC18 to pass.  Fail by less than 5 meant you took 1D10 damage, a fail between 5-9 meant you were slowed (save ends) in addition to the damage, and a fail 10 or below meant you took damage and were stunned, save ends.  Lucky for them, I think Adam passed right away, and Tom only got slowed for one round, then was able to get out fast.

They also noticed with a perception DC22 that the source of the blue glow was what appeared to be the tips of blue crystals poking through the floor.  I wonder if this means they are getting closer to the blue crystals Takhar spoke of?  We will have to wait until next time to find out.

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DnD – Into the Cave of Crystallized Conscience

Here is my first installment of my DnD encounters series.  I wish I would have started this at the beginning of the campaign so that I could write down the whole history / story of the world and the characters as they evolve.  Maybe I will one day look through Jamison’s extensive notes and use them to write it up.  But for now, here we go:

At the end of the last session, the group (who of course refer to themselves as “Manscapers Inc.”) was faced with a decision of helping their new allied race, the Minotaurs, or using the teleportation device the newly met Shardmind presented them with.  The Minotaur chief asked them for immediate help in the north but didn’t explain why.  It would be a 4 days journey via horses, which their bar owner friend Sammuel would loan.  The Shardmind explained his dilemma.  Their race was created by the energies of nature surrounding the explosion site of the Tulani Pool from the war eight centuries ago.  All this time, they have been trying to rebuild the nature that was destroyed there, as well as keep the loose arcane magic from escaping and wrecking more of the world.  Recently, the Shardminds were on their way to meet with a group of the races affiliated with nature (Elves, Eladrin, Goliaths, and Shifters).  These races were trying to help understand the dilemma of the land and wanted to help.  However, before they could meet the representatives of these other races, the Shardmind’s party was abducted by the Eternal Army to be used in their cruel rituals.  The Shardmind asked the PCs to go back with him, meet up with the races together, and try to help quell the arcane forces flowing from the Tulani Pool.

After a short debate, the PCs decided to head north to the Minotaur encampment.  Their rationale was that not only could the Minotaur’s situation be potentially more dire, but also they could teleport to the Shardminds at any point, so once they have completed the mission the Minotaur Chief has, they can instantly teleport away to help the Shardminds.

After a four-day journey turned into a five-day dilemma (failed nature checks, hehe), the group finally met with the Chief, a towering Minotaur who stood over ten feet tall.  The Chief, named Takhar, informed the group a bit of the mysterious Minotaur history.

“At the beginning of our history, we were a bestial race.  We had no sense of civilization; no clans; no real language or care for others.  We were only interested in our most bare, basic needs, such as food or sex.  We battled constantly with others in our race, and it is very fortunate that we were isolated on this small island, otherwise we would have probably been slaughtered by the other races.

Then, one fateful day nearly a century ago, my ancestors came upon a cave that glowed with an eerie blue light.  Curious if this would provide him warmth from the cold Winter’s heart, he entered the cave.  What he found was indeed warmth, but not the kind he sought.

He came across vast blue crystals.  And when he entered their presence, he instantly felt his mind grow, expand, and gain conscience.  He was able to control the beast within.  And with his newfound intelligence, he was able to draw others of our kind into the cave to share this blessing.  Some, however, resisted.  A war took place between those who followed my ancestors and those who didn’t.  We prevailed due to our intelligence and guile.”

Takhar then goes on to let the PCs know that over the course of the next century, no minotaur who has entered the cave has ever reverted back to the beast.  However, 3 months ago one minotaur suddenly couldn’t control his rage anymore.  As the weeks went on, more and more of their clan were starting to revert to the bestial reasonings of their past.  Fearing the crystals are tainted, Takhar sent some of his strongest warriors to the cave to investigate.  However, once they entered the cave, they instantly could no longer stop their instincts from controlling their actions.

Tahkar reasoned that since the players in the group are of races that have no such bestial instinct in their past, they can enter these caves and find the cause.  The PCs accept, believing it will lead to future discovery of both the newly found Shardmind race, the power of these crystals, and why the Eternal Army is after the Minotaurs for their awesome will in controlling a powerful beast within.

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“What’s all in the Miso Salad?”

So, I was taking a poop recently, and as I tend to do when I am going to be sitting in one place for an extended period of time, I looked around out of boredom.  Usually in a work bathroom, when there is nothing interest around, it is a good thing.  However, I was fortunate enough to find a can of Lysol.  This is fortunate for three reasons.  One: it makes the bathroom smell less like ass and more like flowery ass.  B of all: it gave me something to read.  And lastly: it gave me an idea for a silly post to write about while at work, hence distracting and entertaining me instead of me sitting here bored.

As I read over the instructions and all the awesome things Lysol kills (including Hepatitis B and HIV), I noticed something even more amazing that caught my eye…the active ingredients list. 

Normally, people browse over this.  It is a cleaning chemical, or a tube of toothpaste, or whatever.  You use it to do its job; you don’t want to read all of the twelve syllable words that make up the compounds in these products.  So you can imagine my astonishment when I noticed only three things listed.  They were…

Alkyl (C12-C18) dimethylbenzylammonium – 0.08%

Ethanol – 58.12%

Other ingredients – 41.8%

……..Wait a minute……..

You are going to be spraying this stuff all of your household, and in hospitals, and schools, and kitchens, and you can get away with, “We aren’t going to tell you what makes up 41.8% of this stuff that you are going to be breathing in, and touching, and getting into your eyes.”  How does that work?

Imagine going to a restaurant and you see the following description of a salad, “Shredded Napa cabbage with fresh avocado, daikon, carrots, onions, crispy rice noodles, Miso dressing, and 45% other ingredients.”  Now, it could just be paranoid old me, but if there is a good chance that something is going to go into my body somehow, I’d at least like the option of knowing what that other 45% is.

Well, that was my unusual thought for the day.  I don’t really care about the Lysol can not listing it.  It is just a curiosity that they can get away with it.

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MSM – Save a Woody?

“I save Woodys, not princesses.”

-3 year old boy in a Buzz Lightyear costume

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