Session 31.5 The Aftermath of the Battle at Traveler's Lake
Foreword: This is a followup to Session 31, played through play-by-post since last session ended due to time constraints. The tl;dr is that the party lost two characters, a henchman, and two magical weapons, but also took 1 month off the Curse of Lamalla (Blibdoolpoolp)
Timekeeping: "Session" from 23/10/2022 - 25/10/2022 Downtime from 26/10/2022
Characters: Finesstro the Nimble, Caelestis the Wall, Malcolm Mount-Batten, Daubeny Jamwine, John Smith [H]
Downtime Adjudication: N/A
Following the The Battle at Traveler's Lake the party left me with some instructions for what they wanted to do. In short:
- Rest 4 hrs to recover their level 1 spells (as per DMG p40) - note, the party has a cart with tarpaulin so I rule that their spell-casters can get sufficient rest.
- John Smith will prepare and cast Detect Magic on the horseman's flail they took from the priest
- John Smith will prepare Protection From Evil (since he has 1 holy water)
- Malcolm the Scout and Daubeny the Cutpurse will scout ahead the 2 miles from camp to Traveler's Lake to see if the fish men are still present.
- Dependent on 2, but, destroy the cultist's altar and any other religious artifacts. Also try to get treasure.
John Smith does confirm a dweomer emanating from the flail, so Caelestis takes it (since his exceptional strength overpowers his non-proficiency penalty) and Malcolm is given the magical filleting knife that Barbanikos lent to Finesstro.
For 2. I had to think about what would be reasonable actions for the fish men to have taken in the last 4 hours, assigned some probabilities, and rolled some dice. The end result is that the two PCs found there to be no fish men around... And also no bodies or items. The place was picked clean of that.
At this point, I was sending messages in the group chat describing the outcome of their actions. I will simply collate these:
- After scouting ahead and finding the lake to be clear of not only fish men but also all the bodies, of both sides, you regroup and head down to destroy the altar and other religious artifacts. You make quick work of the altar, which was of stacked river rocks and sticks. While you are gathering up and destroying loose ceremonial bowls, bone effigies, pyres, and so forth, you hear an uncharacteristic splash and gurgling sound from the lake, and, looking ahead through the thick blood rain, you see 11 fish men charging towards you from 90 yards away. They are wielding spears and grotesque looking shields. Thankfully you are not surprised, but now you must declare actions!
- Round 1
The fish men collide with your group. On their journey, one of them was struck with Finesstro's 2 magic missiles. 4 of them try to spear Cal and Malcolm, but only one attack lands, dealing Malcolm 3 damage! There are 4 behind the front group with spears but they couldn't attack this round. The remaining three flank around the sides, one beside Cal, one beside Malcolm, and the last closing with John Smith. Caelestis and Malcolm are both successful, Cal whipping one across the shoulder, the weapon unfamiliar to him but deadly. Malcolm slices one of the beasts across the stomach, its hard flesh giving way as a strange blue blood oozes out. No fish have been fried. Daubeny slinks away 12" Declare actions!
The fish men have initiative and with two ranks of spears plus one on each flank, our frontline heroes are hard pressed. Cal's silly stats mean nothing still hits him but Malcolm gets double skewered for a total of 12 damage.
Finesstro scampers away his 9" while John Smith evades blows from the fish man, himself going in for a strike that does nothing!
Daubeny's sling bullet flies off into the distance.
Malcolm and Cal both strike true! Cal fells the fish man with his guts coming out while Malcolm garrotes the one with smashed shoulder, though it still stands. One of the fish men in the second rank fills the gap of the fallen one. They all croak and gurgle horrifically at the death of their ally. A cold malice reflects from their dead, lifeless eyes.
Party Initiative: 3 Monster Initiative: 2
Finesstro's Magic Missile's hits two different fish men, one wounded one copping a bolt on its shoulder but still standing! The other was definitely hit but seemed relatively un-phased. Cal's swipe misses! Malcolm repositions and does not get an attack this round. The three spearfish in the second rank and the one on Cal's flank all try to stab him, since Malcolm moved, but to no avail. John Smith is hit for 4 damage and his attack does nothing to the beast! Nor does Daubeny's stone seem to have any effect except adding extra stress to his allies. The four fish fingers in the front charge for Cal, trying to overbear him. He fends off two of them, one who happened to be the wounded one, and follows up with one successful attack, smashing it's brain in with a loose flail ball. The two he didn't fend off try to dogpile him - one of them straight up bounces off of him, the other slips down and grabs a hold of his leg. (DM Note: This player chose max height/weight for his character, and because of this, his foes are getting upwards of -50% grappling and overbearing outcomes because of the size difference - future PCs are random or average h/w only!) He is now slowed and off balance! Grapples get +10% and monsters get +2 to hit him. The creature on Malcolm's flank (hit by Finesstro's missile) pursued him and charged into him, knocking him to his hands and knees for 4 damage (2 real 2 temp, regen at 1/rd). The slimy, nimble, and incredibly strong fish man dropped his weapons and mounted the young ranger, wrangling him into a bear hug and crushing his ribs for 4 damage (1 real, 3 temp, 1 regen/rd). Future rounds for Malcolm will be spent trying to get out of the grapple/turn the situation around. Declare actions!
Party Initiative: 2 Monster Initiative: 4
Before anything happens, John Smith raises his holy cross and calls out a pray to God. The blood rain splatters upon the wooden symbol, soaking into it and degrading its appearance. There is no answer. His opponent tries to capitalise on his distraction but the cleric remained focused and untouched. Two fish men in the second rank tried to stab Cal again and failed, but the one on his flank stabs Caelestis for a whopping 7 damage. Meanwhile, with the fish holding onto his leg, Caelestis is assailed by the other 3 trying to overbear him again - the scent of blood combined with at least one success from their ally driving them into a fishy frenzy. Cal fends off one but soon the dogpile is successful - one grabs his other leg, making him "held by both legs" - +20% to grapple attempts and enemies hit at +4! The last fish staggers him for 2 damage (1 real 1 temp) and follows up by ganging up on one of his legs with the other fish dude. Cal smacks the first fish in the head - it's a whopping blow but the barra sticks to the line and doesn't give up. Old Oily gets up after his handiwork on Malcolm and grabs his spear and shield, preparing to finish off the job, when over the chaotic din the taunts of Finesstro and Daubeny reach his ear holes. None of the fish men pay any heed to these disturbances, and neither does Oily. The fish man flanking Cal spared a glance to the mockery but the scent of blood he just drew is too enticing! Declare Actions!
Party Initiative: 3 Monster Initiati
Traveler's Lake (Artist's Interpretation)
Cal hits the first fish that grabbed him and the thing is barely alive, but it is fully entangled around his leg and spasming out. Finesstro and Daubeny take a cautious circle around the melee, and find themselves in a path much like their previous, full of idols, effigies, and other ceremonial items. Malcolm is still blacked out. The 3 fish men on Cal's legs maintain their grip. Their slick oily skin glistening with blood - blood from the sky, blood from their allies, blood from Cal. The four other spearfish all try to lance the Gigachad but this bullshit says they all miss. They will need to fully immobilise him if they want guaranteed hits. Old Oily steps his scaly foot - paw - talon? on Malcolm's back and, as per DMG p70, stabs him through the head twice for 14 damage. Malcolm is dead. Somewhere during this John Smith succeeded a morale check and his opponent failed to hit him again. Declare Actions!
Party Initiative: 4 Monster Initiative: 4
The four standing spearfish try to penetrate Cal's silly protection - one of them does! Cal takes 5 damage. The other 3 continue to hold onto his legs, not seeming to bother with risking losing their hold to get something better. Finesstro and Daubeny simultaneously move further away while they hear the gurgling cry of glee of Old Oily as he plucks Malcolm's dagger from his corpse and begins to run towards you both - he is about 6" away now. John tries to disengage-retreat but his aggressor is Hell bent on putting away this disciple of Christ - he moves with him about 4" away, the two swapping blows but to no avail. Declare Actions!
Party Initiative: 6 Monster Initiative: 6
Cal simultaneously misses his attack while three of the spearfish try again to lance him. The huge giant is unpenetrated - except for one blow which deals 5 damage. The fourth spearfish on his left flank drops its weapons and goes for a grapple, (which Cal can't fend due to being on his shield side) but with a -17 on their d100 roll despite having 3 fish dudes grasping his legs, the best the fish man can do is get a waist clinch which does no damage, but does secure the fishes hold. The Wall has about 900 pounds hanging off him and he's still swinging! Though he cannot counter this grapple due to having his hands occupied. Finesstro and Daubeny both flee along the lake while Old Oily trails behind, a wicked glean in his cold visage, though he is not as fast as the lightly equipped "heroes". John Smith is wise enough not to go rummaging through his pack in the middle of a melee with an undamagable fish man - he tries to disengage, but the fish charges him for an Overbear! The fish man collides so heavily with his scaly shoulder and shield that John is knocked flat and stunned, taking 6 damage (3 real, 3 temp) - he is at 1 real hp, -2 temp hp - unconscious!
Party Initiative: 5 Monster Initiative: 1
Cal wipes out the wounded fish man on his leg - now only 2 hang off his legs and 1 has a waist clinch, which he couldn't improve upon. The giant man is still in his same vulnerable state due to the gang, and one spearfish lands a measly 3 damage on Cal. John Smith is executed by Slimy Simmons with two quick thrusts to the head - the fishy menace turns to the back of Caelestis now. Finesstro and Daubeny continue their trailing of Old Oily, the leering aquatic humanoid seemingly electrified by their slowing down. Declare Actions!
Party Initiative: 3 Monster Initiative: 2
Cal hits another fish man on his leg - this one was previously wounded and is latching on for dear life now, its blue blood mixing with the blood red rain as the hulking Fighter flails about like a cornered dog. Two of the fish men stab him for a combined 8 damage, while Slimy Simmons disregards his dex bonus, shield bonus, gets a +2 to hit from rear, and a +4 due to him being grappled, for an easy 6 damage to Cal! Meanwhile, the waist clinching wobbegong finally gets a better hold - it's a hand lock! Caelestis no longer has his shield arm! He takes 3 damage (1 real 2 temp) Daubeny and Finesstro move 8.5" while Old Oily moves 9", closing the gap from 9" to 8.5". Declare Actions!
Caelestis the Wall
Party Initiative: 3 Monster Initiative: 2
Cal clobbers a different fish man before Slimy Simmons, Wrangling Wobbegong, and co. all crank or stab his broken down figure - the man is sent to -9hp (3 temporary) at last, and the fishy fiends croak and splatter with glee over his body. Slimy Simmons grabs the flail and in a stroke of grim irony bashes Caelestis' head in, while the rest of them drink up the blood and suck on the brain matter. While Finesstro and Daubeny continue their journey - some couple hundred yards along the lake edge, quite away from the combat, they notice Old Oily dive into the lake - the surface a thick red colour and unable to be penetrated by eye.
Following this, Finesstro and Daubeny circle back around to the combat site and, upon seeing fish men still there, hauling bodies into the water, they decide to leave this place and return to Underland. Just before they were chased off, they noticed a stone obelisk in the water where the fish men were splashing around - it had strange markings on it.
They make it back to their cart and horses, and begin the journey back to Underland. At the end of the first day (23/10/2022) they rejoin the soldiers they sent home, and match their pace for the rest of the journey, returning to the city on the 25/10/2022, in the late afternoon/early evening:
"You arrive at Underland on the 25/10/22 - some citizens look on with sorrow as the group of over 100 returns a group of 30, with many heroes lost as well. Some spit at you as walk by, widows calling out for justice for their now broken family. Guardsmen and Cultist Guards stare at you in silence - the former with a pained expression, the latter with a cold and empty gaze. While you pass through, Finesstro, you notice skittering towards you through the throng of people now dispersing a small ferret like creature with an ugly man's face. It's Brown Jenkin. He crawls up your horses leg which almost sends the beast reeling but you calm him down. "Master wishes to speak with you, and he hopes you were successful and that his knife served you well." At this last statement, the ghastly thing lets out a horrific snicker that is equally unsettling as it is inhuman. Before you make it much further, one of the lieutenant's of the troop you took with you leans over and speaks to you both - "Captain Charder will want to hear your account, of both the battle and your proceeding endeavors." He is quiet for a moment and mutters under his breath, "I hope this was all worth it" You are soon left alone in the main street, blood rain pouring about your cart. It is getting dark, and the rain is particularly heavy tonight."
Finesstro goes and briefs Barbanikos on what transpired:
"Barbanikos: "You WHAT!? My prized filleting knife! Stolen by Evil fish men? Your army slaughtered, your greatest fighters executed - what a disaster! But, BUT! Was it? You say you annihilated all of the human cultists, including their high priests? And you destroyed the altar to Blibdoolpoolp? Yes, yes! A great loss indeed but not wasted! Slaying the priests and destroying the altar - good, GOOD! Can you not feel the Sun is a little brighter? Does the Blood Moon not seem little purer? You have taken a score off the clock, this is certain.""
From this point, it is downtime activities.
Treasure & XP:
No treasure. XP awarded for the combat from Session 31.5 goes wholly to the survivors. This was scaled by the relative strengths of each side (as per DMG 84). Could this mean that mass battles = mass XP?
Finesstro - 1493XP
Daubeny - 1493XP
Character Performance Ratings: Refer to Session 31 - in general, the survivors Finesstro and Daubeny both behaved Good and shirked courageous brawn, opting for alternatives and self-preservation.
Downtime Requests: Downtime from 26/10/2022
Finesstro - Traveling to Castle Ardenward and informing the Baron that most of his forces have been killed, but that a great victory was achieved. He will see what he can do to help the Baron's domain, and also tell thrilling tales in the Giant's Shin about his allies, Malcolm the Scout, and Caelestis the Wall (ft. John Smith).
- I was much more attentive to rule details since there wasn't the same urgency to keep things rolling as in normal play. E.g. amount of attacks that a shield is effective against, flanking, double checking modifiers for WvAC. This was generally a more accurate combat with fewer mistakes.
- I was able to adjudicate a group grappling attack, which was epic and something that typically deterred me due to the complexity of it (think: you have 3 guys overbearing 1 guy, so there's those usual modifiers to keep track of. The order matters because if the first guy succeeds it will benefit the following guys. On top of this, the defender (if he has a weapon) gets fending attacks which, if successful, trigger a free attack roll). This was excellent practice to get more comfortable with it.