Tuesday, May 21, 2019

D&D 5e [Princes of the Apocalypse] Session 4: Awesome Random Treasure, Dodgy Wagon Dealers and Specter Swords, oh my!

Tempest, Blue Dragonborn Cleric Trickery-Domain (played by Jojo, 14yo)
Folax Huntreouss, Human Gunslinger (played by Evan, 12yo)

Warning: This adventure contains a lot of references and spoilers to the ‘Princes of the Apocalypse’ campaign. If you have yet to play through the campaign, be warned that you’re likely to come across the same stuff we did.

Adventure Notes:
In the previous session, after the fight with the half-ogre and goblin, the adventurers follow a trail to an untidy campsite where the two monsters were staying. I wasn’t too sure if the monsters had specific treasure that they had stolen from ambushing other explorers exiting the tomb, especially since the campaign book had specifically named them both 'Geeraugh' and 'Mougra'. So I told the kids that I’d double-check the campaign book and let them know this session.

“So guys, I couldn’t find any specific types of treasure that the half-ogre and goblin had, so you will have to roll up on this Random Treasure Hoard chart.” I show the kids the CR 0-4 Random Treasure Hoard Chart in the DM Guide, and hand them some dice. Jojo rolls up a decent stash of coins on the d6s, while Evan tries his luck on the percentile d10s for some treasure items. He rolls this:

Jojo is aghast. “EVAN! You rolled a ZERO!”

“No, he hasn’t,” I say. “That’s a hundred!”

“What!? What if he rolled a 00 and a 1?”

“Well, that’s a one. Look, just trust me on this, 00 and 0 is a hundred!”

Somewhat half-convinced, but still very excited, the kids wait as I flip the DM guide to the appropriate Treasure Table. Personally, I was expecting the treasure hoard to have a couple of potions or two, but now it looks like Geeraugh and Mougra had something pretty decent stashed away in their camp. Jojo rolls the dice, and I find the treasure reference. Hmmm, interesting.

“Aside from the coins, you find a carefully wrapped bundle. Obviously, these two monsters thought that this was something pretty valuable! You open the bundle, and find a belt with a very large buckle!”

“You mean like, something out from WWE?”

“You know, what? Exactly like something out from WWE!”

Any time, any place! I'm taking you down!

Evan immediately decides that he’s putting it on, despite protests from his sister that it might be cursed. I tell him, “You feel… stronger?”

Jojo declares. “I punch him!” The dragonborn cleric jabs the gunslinger in the kidneys. I tell them, “I said stronger, not more endurance!” as the gunslinger doubles over in pain.

After some threats to punch Jojo back, the kids finally decide that Evan should try punching a small nearby tree. I tell them that Folax knocks the tree out from the ground and it slides about 10 feet away!

Mouths agape in undisguised glee, I explain to the kids that they’ve found a Belt of Hill Giant Strength, which sets Folax’s Strength to a cool 21. With a +5 Strength modifier, it looks like the gunslinger has suddenly become melee-type brawler.

The kids decide to go back into the tomb to check on S'il-vous-plaît (“LEAVE THIS PL-Oh, it’s you guys.”) and after promising to come visit occasionally, the adventurers head back to town.

“A couple more days pass. Evan, your gunslinger uses his new-found strength to really impress the regulars at Landro’s tavern with his bouncer work. One night, Landro tells you, ‘Hey-a, I’m having some of the guys over for a card game tonight. Want to join in?’”

“Um, yeah sure. What game are you playing?”

“Maybe it’s D&D!” laughs Jojo. “Oooo.. paradox!”

“It’s a card game,” I tell them. “Anyway, there’s gambling involved, so how much do you want to spend?”

As Evan decides how much gold he’s spending, I tell him that the other players are Landro, Greenie the shepherd, an old half-orc named Ironhead, and a halfling named Stan. They seem like regular players, and Landro deals Folax in. “This card game is called ‘Three Dragon Ante’. It’s like D&D poker, but the funny thing is that dragons detest the game and think it’s insulting. In fact, it’s a joke that while you can find anything in a dragon’s hoard, you’ll never find a deck of Three Dragon Ante!” I tell him that he can try playing normally by rolling an Insight, Perception or Deception roll. I look at him slyly. “Or... you can try cheating by rolling a Sleight-of-Hand roll!”

Evan decides to play normally (this time!) and rolls a decent Insight roll. I roll some d20s and announce that Landro wins the game (“Of course Landro wins!”), with Folax coming in second. “During the game, Stan the halfling keeps drinking and complaining about his boss. The halfling works in a place that fixes and sells wagons. You’ve seen the place - ‘Waelvur’s Wagonworks’. There are two places which sell wagons in Red Larch, the first being ‘Thelorn’s Safe Journeys’ which is a great place for quality, reliable wagons. And then down the street, there’s Waelvur’s.” I lift a hand and do a so-so motion. “It’s more like a seedy second-hand wagon dealership. Some of the wagons sold here tend to come back. On three wheels.”

In our campaign, Waelvur looks like Mr Wormwood the used car salesman from ‘Matilda’.

The gunslinger leans over, looking interested. “So what’s up with your boss?”

Stan snorts. “Waelvur is acting really dubious these days. He won’t let anyone into the place after sundown, but a few times last week, I saw him sneaking in some people in hoods through the sidedoor! I think he’s up to something dodgy!”

Landro laughs, “You’re in Landro’s, and you’re worried about something dodgy!?” Everyone laughs heartily, including Folax. Ironhead the half-orc chats a bit to Folax about his current weapons. “Ironhead is an aged, balding, somewhat paunchy half-orc. He’s surprisingly pretty chill for a half-orc. Normally, half-orcs are really hot-tempered, but Ironhead looks like he’s had enough of fights and brawls, and he’s happy just to enjoy life as it comes. Anyway, Ironhead runs a weapons and armour store in town.”

The old half-orc grunts at Folax’s rifle. “Ranged is fine, but if you really want to wade into battle, melee is where all the action is! Stop by my shop, and I’ll fix you up with some decent melee weapons!” The gunslinger decides to do that in the morning.

Meanwhile, Jojo’s dragonborn cleric spends most of her time in the inn. I tell Jojo, “So as a cleric, normally you have some sort of daily ritual that you need to do in order to re-charge your spells. What sort of ritual does Tempest do?”

Jojo replies, “I sit and meditate on the floor. Oh! In a circle of sporks!”

“Ooo-kay. Anyway, there’s this building here next to the Swinging Sword that you pass by every day. You sort of know what it is - it’s the All-Faith’s Shrine. Most of the major temples in the big cities send a pair of clerics here on a ‘tour of duty’ to maintain the shrine. Anyway, you’ve observed the two clerics stationed here; one is a buff bald guy with a bushy beard who is a cleric of Tempus (a war god), and the other is a beautiful, tall red-head who is a cleric of Sune (the goddess of beauty).”

“Oh,” says Jojo doubtfully. “I don’t think my character would mix with either one of those!”

As the dragonborn cleric observes the simple stone shrine with stone block benches that serve as pews, I tell her that the cleric of Sune sees her and approaches. “She’s got a head of flowing red hair, and is wearing a gown that mum and dad will never let you out in!”

“Hi there,” greets the red-headed cleric of Sune. “I’m Lymmura of Sune! I’ve heard about you, and it’s such a pleasure to meet another cleric!”

“Um, I act really uncomfortably. ‘Hi. Yes. Bye?’”

There’s a smashing sound, and they both look to see the cleric of Tempus using a warhammer to bash a practice dummy set up in the shrine. “He’s practising for his next sermon,” gesticulates the cleric of Sune, “I’m decorating the shrine pillars with these flower garlands. I think beauty has such an important role to play in the world, don’t you think? I spent hours this morning picking these flowers. After hours doing up my hair, of course.”

Jojo rolls her eyes. “Yeah, of course. I wouldn’t really know. Because I have scales. You know.”

Lymmura gasps airily. “Oh my, what a beautiful shade of blue! May I touch them?”

The dragonborn steps back from the cleric’s hand. “Whoa-whoa! These scales? No touching, okay!?”

I tell Jojo, “Suddenly, Lymmura’s eyes widen with shock, and she gives a frightened scream at something behind you! You turn, and see the Ghost Bear Lady! And behind her is the big, black bear!”

“Ghost Bear Lady!” greets Tempest happily. I tell Jojo that she has no idea how the Ghost Bear Lady got herself (and the bear!) into the middle of town without being noticed. The black bear starts eating the flower garlands, much to the dismay of the cleric of Sune.

Ghost Bear Lady nods at Tempest. “The dreams are becoming more frequent of late. The elemental evil is stirring. And you and your companion are involved somehow.”

“I don’t die in your dreams, do I?”

I tell Jojo, “The Ghost Bear Lady starts to answer, then frowns, then ponders for a while before replying, ‘Dreams are hard to recall. Probably not. Maybe?’”


The Ghost Bear Lady changes the subject by asking Tempest what she’s been up to lately. The dragonborn cleric relates the events of the past week, and asks if she knows how to get a friendly specter out from its tomb. I tell Jojo, “The Ghost Bear Lady replies that she knows little of such matters, and perhaps you should ask a person who has more experience with the undead. With that, she bids you farewell and good luck, and departs with the black bear following-”

“Oh wait! Before you go, can I pet your bear!?”

The Ghost Bear Lady shrugs. “He’s not my bear. Ask him yourself.”

Tempest approaches the bear (which is still munching on left-over flower garlands) and I get Jojo to roll a d20. She rolls badly. “You reach out a tentative hand, and the bear gives you a low warning growl. You wisely retract your hand as the bear wanders off.”

Tempest hears people coming, and sees the cleric of Tempus (with a resigned look) being led by Lymmura (with a distressed look) to the site of her devastated flower garlands. As the red-headed cleric laments over the half-chewed remains, the cleric of Tempus introduces himself as Imdarr to Tempest. “So Lymmura says that a bear ate her flowers?”

“Oh, it’s okay. The bear’s gone now after the Ghost Bear Lady left.”

“A ghost!? Where!?” Imdarr grips his warhammer which has a holy symbol on its pommel.

The dragonborn cleric hastily explains that there’s no ghost around here, and after some hesitation (and a decent Insight roll to determine the cleric’s intentions) tells Imdarr about S'il-vous-plaît. The buff cleric frowns. “Well, normally ghosts stay on the material plane because they have unfinished business. Perhaps I can do a Divination and consult Tempus about this one?”

The divination doesn’t take too long, and after asking some questions such as “What was his master’s name again?” Imdarr tells the dragonborn cleric, “Well, the good news is that Lord Theodore was a great warrior in his lifetime, and he is highly honored among the warriors of Tempus! Because of this, Tempus has decided to help you - S'il-vous-plaît is still here on this plane because he is to avenge his master’s death. However (and this is strange) Tempus says that the thing that killed his master is still in his master’s resting place!”

“What!? You mean, through the iron door? But S'il-vous-plaît will attack anyone who tries to open it!”

Imdarr shrugs. “It’s a mystery to me too.”

I tell the kids that Evan’s gunslinger comes along and invites Tempest to check out Ironhead’s weapons and armour shop. The two adventurers find the shop along the main street and enter it. “Normally, weapons and armour shops have racks of weapons and armour displayed along the walls. Ironhead’s shop is more like a thrift store. There are disorganised piles of weapons (not even arranged by type) on the floor, and some bins containing pieces of armour.”

The old half-orc gives the two adventurers a jovial welcome, and immediately offers up some battered (but still workable) weapons and armour. In the end, Tempest upgrades her Leather armour to Studded Leather, while Folax trades in his armour for Scale Armor, along with a sturdy War Pick.

“The war pick is fine, but this armour has seen better days,” I tell the kids. “Ironhead sells these to you for almost half-price! There’s one thing though - once you receive 2 Critical hits, the armour breaks, and you’ll have to bring it back here for repairs!”

Adventure Notes:
I have no idea how to create “second-hand armour” in D&D, so improvised with the 2 Critical Hit condition. Not sure if there was a better way to handle this.

Ironhead tells Folax, “You know, Landro has won at Three Dragon Ante for five nights in a row now! The next time we play, you and I need to work out a way to take him down together!”

Evan laughs, “Geez, this is getting strategic!”

Before they leave the shop, Tempest asks Ironhead if he knows Zoey the half-orc caravan guard, and the old half-orc chuckles. “Oh yes, most of us know about hot-tempered Zoey!” Jojo feels sorry for her half-orc friend.

The adventurers decide to pay S'il-vous-plaît a visit, and are soon back at the haunted tomb. When the specter appears, they ask him about his master, and how he died. S'il-vous-plaît sighs, “Lord Theodore was a great man. He was part of the war band that slew the rampaging dragon Andraxius! Unfortunately, he wasn’t too good with managing his fortune, so by the time he took me on, I was the only bodyguard he could afford! And then, one morning, we found him dead in his bedroom, with slash wounds all over!”

The kids take note of the dragon-slaying as a possible murder motive. “Well, S'il-vous-plaît,” says Jojo. “We’ve got some news. We did a divination, and we found that your master’s killer might be still in his resting place beyond this iron door!”

The specter looks dumb-founded, and then bursts out laughing. “Hahahhah! You mean, you mean, I’ve been guarding this iron door for over a hundred years, and.. whatever killed my master is inside all along!?” He continues to laugh at the absurdity.

“Well, have you ever been INSIDE the room beyond this door?”

The specter stops laughing. “Oh well, um. It’s not. Polite, you know? Disturbing my master’s resting place and all.”

Jojo rolls her eyes. “Look, will you go crazy on us and start attacking us if we try to get through this iron door?”

The specter hesitates, and I get Jojo to do a Persuasion roll with advantage (because they were friendly with the specter). She easily passes the DC. “Okay guys, I’ll promise I won’t ‘go crazy’ on you guys! I can’t watch though!” The specter vanishes from sight.

I tell the kids, “Imagine a view from the inside of the iron door. Folax’s war pick punches a hole through, and then the gunslinger uses it like a tin-opener to yank the rest of the rusted door open!” The adventurers cautiously enter the room, weapons at ready.

I read from the campaign book, “Beyond the rusted door is another square room, twenty feet by twenty feet, containing a stone coffin. The ceiling is cracked, allowing roots and water into the chamber from multiple points, although little collects here. At the coffin’s feet is a rusty iron chest.

“It might be a Mimic!” warns Jojo. The dragonborn cleric carefully opens the iron chest, and I tell her that she finds nothing but old ruined clothes and a soggy book inside.

The adventurers decide that the ‘killer’ must be inside the coffin, and the dragonborn cleric shifts the stone lid aside. “The stone lid slides off and thumps on the ground! Inside the coffin is a skeleton dressed in a rusted breastplate and clasping a longsword to its chest. The sword looks brand new!”

As the kids ponder on this, I tell them, “Suddenly, the skeleton’s arms start to move! The sword lifts from the stone coffin, and then the skeletal arms snap off! The sword hovers and swishes around in the air above the coffin!”

The kids say, “It’s a Honedge!”

“A what?”

“A Honedge, dad! It’s a sword-class Pokemon!”

“I didn’t know there were Pokemon in D&D!”

Jojo gasps, “Is S'il-vous-plaît around? What if he’s controlling the sword!? Like unexpected betrayal from a Disney movie!?”

Evan snorts, “S'il-vous-plaît is a specter, not a poltergeist!”

I tell the kids that this is actually a Flying Sword, a D&D creature that is a mindless construct, like a golem.

The kids theorise, “Well, that explains the slash wounds on Lord Theodore’s body! But who created it? Maybe he created it himself, and it turned on him?”

Meanwhile, the flying sword dives towards the dragonborn cleric. I get the kids to roll for Initiative, and Tempest gets first go with a decent attack roll of 15 with her mace. “Tempest swings her mace, but the sword is too fast! It flips and dodges the blow!” The flying sword stabs at the dragonborn cleric who fends it off with her shield. Folax gives a mighty swing with his war pick, but ends up smashing into the stone coffin instead, sending bits of bone everywhere.

Finally, Tempest flings a Guiding Bolt which strikes the flying sword dead on. The construct clatters on the floor, flopping like a landed fish. There is a shimmer and S'il-vous-plaît appears next to it, looking aghast. “What the heck is THAT!?”

I tell the kids, “Suddenly, there is a bright flash! You see S'il-vous-plaît absorbed into the sword that’s flopping on the ground! When the flash clears, the sword is motionless!”

The kids are open-mouthed. “What just happened!?” Tempest pokes the sword, and the image of S'il-vous-plaît appears on the blade. “What just happened!?”

Eventually, Folax picks up the sword, and they discover that S'il-vous-plaît can hover the sword by himself for a few minutes. “Let’s take him outside!” The adventurers bring the sword out into the daylight, and S'il-vous-plaît reports that he’s still okay!

“Let’s show him to the cleric of Tempus,” suggests Jojo. Before they leave, the adventurers double-check the tomb for loot, and find a secret compartment in the iron chest which contains a pair of braided silver and electum rings, and a gold locket containing a picture of a lovely half-elf female. S'il-vous-plaît mentions that his master once courted this half-elf female, but she never accepted his marriage proposal. The kids note down yet another murder motive.

The adventurers return to the All-Faiths Shrine just as the service is ending. Imdarr is hammering at the practice dummy in front of the congregation. “In the front row, you see the broad shape of Constable Harburk and Jaylessa his wife. Their three big sons take up the second row.” Jaylessa is dabbing away tears from her eyes, ‘That was so moving!’

After the service, the adventurers impatiently pull Imdarr aside and show him the sword. Imdarr frowns, “It’s a sword?” Folax lets go of the sword, and it hovers in mid-air. “By Tempus! It’s a Dancing Sword!” S'il-vous-plaît face appears on the blade. “By Tempus! It’s a Spectral Dancing Sword!”

The cleric consults Tempus with another Divination. Eventually he says, "Tempus has replied that he's caused this to happen - S'il-vous-plaît will find the creator of this sword, and avenge his master!"

I explain to the kids that I’d based the ‘S'il-vous-plaît Sword’ off a D&D magical weapon called a ‘Dancing Sword’. “It flies around and attacks in combat. After 4 rounds, it returns back to you.”

“You mean, we can ‘Yondu’ this sword around in combat!?”

“Um, well. Yes.”


Watch out here comes my arrow! It flies super fast and kills everyone!

I help the kids write down the capabilities of the 'S'il-vous-plaît Sword'; I’d added an additional tweak to let it deal 3d6 necrotic damage on critical hits, based off the Specter’s Withering Touch feature. Evan states that he’ll probably start using S'il-vous-plaît as his main melee weapon.

Adventure Notes:
I’d planned to get the kids have the S'il-vous-plaît Sword as an NPC who can help them out in melee combat since they had magic and ranged covered. However, the kids picking up a Belt of Hill Giant Strength was completely out of the blue, and now it’s possible that Folax is going to be the melee brawler, although he’s pretty much a glass cannon.

So, does anyone have other ideas on how would you implement ‘second-hand armour’?

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