July 7th, 2004


D&D Jun-22-2004

Last Tuesday's D&D game did not go quite as I had intended.

The PCs had used up a lot of resources in the earlier fights of the day, and I wanted to make them feel the pinch a bit. Plus, they knew that they had been scried upon by Melisande, the vampire wizard who's the henchman of their current nemesis, and the vampires' castle is not far away--so it seemed necessary for her to harass them.

So I sent a zombie dragon after them, describing it as a Frankenstein-like hodgepodge of miscellaneous parts kluged together into the shape of a dragon. At CR 9, it seemed it should be a fairly easy fight for the level 10-11 party--especially since they could see it coming from several miles away.

It was a very nasty fight, though, and even left Turok at -3 hit points at one point. The zombie's spell resistance made it hard for them to assault it with spells, and its massive attack bonus made it hard to face it in melee, even though it only had one attack per turn.

The next day, then, (after Prolix made his previously-played bid to get his spellbooks) they delved down underwater to fight the ocularon (a sort of flying jellyfish that rips creatures' eyes out, fills the eyeballs with poison, and sends them floating out to harm the hapless). The party talked with a group of chuul pearl-farmers first, and used an arcane eye to spy out the location. With poison-protection for everyone, freedom of movement effects for Turok and Liandra, and an effective languor spell, they made short work of the ocularon (although they had a somewhat frustrating time figuring out what attacks would keep it from healing up). Despite the CR 12 of the ocularon (which I raised to 13 because I put it underwater), they had a fairly easy time of this fight, much easier than the zombie dragon.

They managed to choose two eyes to fill Bertolf's empty sockets, and left the Lake of Optalis before nightfall.

Now, I'm not sure whether it's a good thing to talk about what I had in mind or not. So I'll lj-cut it. I'll keep it to might-have-beens, without spoilers for the future.
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Ah well. Next the party is heading off towards the Gorge of Fire, which is giving me planning problems of its own:
- I'm not sure how the physical structure of the place will work. If it's just an open gorge, the PCs are likely to just teleport straight to the juicy bits.
- Most of the fire-related monsters that I've been reading about are fairly... straightforward. They hit you and possibly set you on fire, but they're all vulnerable to cold and mostly don't have a lot in the way of special abilities. The environment is hostile too, but in fairly predictable ways. There doesn't seem to be the sort of variety that I got with sonic monsters in the Caverns of Laryn, or with eye monsters in the Lake of Optalis. The net result is that with a bit of preparation and good spell choice (particularly endure elements, resist fire, and protection from fire), the PCs can kick a lot of fiery butt. So I need to get creative if things are to be interesting.
- Another hugely effective spell is quench. This third-level druid spell does 1d6 per level damage to every fire elemental within a shapeable area of a 20-foot cube per caster level. So Liandra could blast an army of fire elementals with a couple of castings. On the one hand, I definitely want to make this a useful choice for Liandra, and I always like giving her a chance to shine. But I'll have to get creative to make sure there are encounters interesting or challenging enough to stand up to a quench or too.
- Treasure is also something of a challenge here. Lots of treasure would not easily be found on the ground here--particularly not scrolls, but there are lots of other inflammable magic items as well. Another thing I'll have to figure out.