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.
“Okay, guys, so far we’ve been doing combat with just rolling dice and imagining the battle, and D&D supports all this fine. This time, I thought we’d try something different. This is an important boss fight, so I’ve drawn the ‘Tomb of Moving Stones’ on this grid-map.”
The Tomb of Moving Stones - Boss fight!
“This is much better,” says Jojo approvingly. “I can actually see where everyone is!”
I explain to the kids what ‘Speed 30 ft’ means in terms of grid movement, as well as weapon ranges. Evan is delighted to know that his rifle pretty much can hit anything in the room without disadvantage, while Jojo is a little underwhelmed by the 30-foot range of her dragonborn lightning breath attack. “It hits multiple enemies though, so use it carefully.”
The six leather armour clad ‘Bringers of Woe’ are still striking their poses in front of the Black Earth Cult Priest, who is currently doing a face-palm and muttering, “I told you guys; this is NOT cool, it’s just embarrassing!” He then points towards the adventurers. “Prove your worth to me, Bringers of Woe! Eliminate these intruders!”
We roll Initiative, and Evan goes first. “I’m using the Wand of Magic Missiles!” The gunslinger burns multiple charges to send a mass of streaking Magic Missiles to hit each Bringer of Woe for 1d4+1 damage.
The Bringers of Woe retaliate with a volley of crossbow bolts themselves. “Tempest dodges the couple of bolts aimed at her, while Folax gets hit for 8 damage!”
I let Jojo control Zoey’s actions, and she sends the half-orc caravan guard charging forward. “Zoey charges straight into melee range of three Bringers of Woe, swinging her-” I hesitate. “Actually, I don’t know what weapon she uses!”
Jojo says, “I always imagined her using something large and oversized, like the powerline pole that Gargantuar uses in Plants versus Zombies.”
After a brief discussion, we decide that Zoey uses an oversized maul, swinging it two-handed like a massive baseball bat. Jojo rolls her attack roll and rolls a 20! “Zoey charges into melee, and she back-hands her maul into a Bringer of Woe, smashing him up into the ceiling! He crashes back down, and does not get up!”
Tempest leaps off the stone-slab table and runs forwards. “I move to this square, and blast my lightning breath! Three of them should be in line with my breath attack!” Three Bringers of Woe are caught in the deadly lightning attack, and some amazing damage rolls result in a couple of lightning-charred corpses on the ground. Folax moves forward, firing his rifle at the Black Earth Priest, upping his damage with Violent Blast.
The kids and I pause here to survey the results of this amazing round. In one round, the party had managed to eliminate half their opponents! If there was ever a movie poster for this campaign, this would have been it - Zoey leading the charge and smashing her hapless opponent into the ceiling, with Tempest next to her dragon-lightning-breath blasting several more enemies, while Folax brings up the rear firing with his rifle.
Back to the fight. Alarmed at the rate his minions are being pulverised, the Black Earth Priest raises his hands and snarls, “SLOW!” Immediately, the three charging adventurers are caught in a motion-slowing wave. “You guys are all running in slow motion. Zoey looks over at you and says in slow-mo, ‘Whhuuuaaaattt’sss hhaaapppeeenniinnggg!!??’ It’s almost like that Quicksilver kitchen scene in X-Men, except that you guys are the ones who are slow!”
I get them to roll Wisdom saving throws, and Folax and Tempest succeed! “You guys speed up again, but poor Zoey is still caught in slow-mo!” However, even while slowed, the half-orc manages to dodge an attack and retaliate with a smash that brings down her opponent. Tempest finishes off the last Bringer of Woe with her mace.
Grumbling under his breath about useless underlings, the Black Earth Priest advances, expertly spinning his long glaive in elaborate twirls. After being grazed by a thrusting attack from Sil-vous-plait, the Black Earth Priest makes two attacks, striking Zoey down to 0 HPs, and scoring a hit against Tempest. “Zoey is down and bleeding badly! She probably couldn’t get out of the way fast enough because of the Slow spell!”
The kids deliberate for a few minutes on whether they should try to revive Zoey, or concentrate on the Black Earth priest, but eventually Tempest decides to conclude business with a Guiding Bolt which misses badly (she rolled a 1) and blasts a hole in the priest’s robe between his legs instead. Eventually, Folax ends the fight with a critical hit shot (he rolled a 20) that collapses the Black Earth priest into a heap.
What a fight! The kids were stoked, and after reviving Zoey, they find the Black Earth priest still coughing his last dying breaths. A couple of questions reveals some interesting pieces of information:
- The Black Earth Priest is from the Black Earth cult that is one of four Elemental Evil cults in the Dessarin Valley. Although all serve the Elemental Evil, the cults all despise each other.
- The Red Larch Believers were being fooled by the Black Earth priest into doing more and more heinous crimes to indoctrinate them into the earth cult.
- The “flying club” at Feathergale Spire is part of the evil air cult.
With that, I let the Black Earth priest expire at last. The adventurers search his belongings and find some gold, as well as a few curiously shaped metal bars shaped like Toblerones. Of course, the kids recognise these as Mirabar trade bars. Zoey, who had been a caravan guard with the Mirabar delegation before she was fired, goes pale when she sees them. “The guards were idiots, but some of the Mirabar delegates were my friends,” she says. “Where did this piece of scum get his hands on this!?”
Some experimentation with the stone blocks in the room soon reveals the chamber’s magic secret. The floor is enchanted, such that stamping the floor next to a stone block makes the stone block hover an inch off the ground so that it can be easily moved around by sliding. Obviously, this was some sort of dwarven logistical warehouse. The kids spend some time playing 'giant air hockey' by sliding large blocks of stone around at each other.
Constable Harburk and his sons arrive at the scene with the old man Baragustus in tow. “We found some corpses in some of the other rooms,” says the broad constable. “They look like travellers who have been ritually killed!”
Baragustus reveals that the Believers had been following what the Black Earth priest had told them - that the Delvers were demanding sacrifices to be performed. He names Waelvur and Melli the Stone Quarry overseer woman as some of the main ring-leaders. He also says Landro is involved, but his job was just to locate suitable travellers whom no one will easily miss.
“So that’s what ‘another one’ means,” mutters Jojo. “Well, I’m going to find the Stone Quarry Overseer woman, and make her pay!”
Constable Harburk stops Tempest as the dragonborn cleric tries to leave. “My apologies,” he says. “Since this involves Red Larch townsfolk, you will have to leave it to the proper Red Larch authorities to handle. Namely me and my boys.” Behind him, his deputy sons are excitedly sliding the floating stones at each other. Tempest snorts, but stands down.
I tell the kids, “Well, guess what guys - after this big boss fight, and solving the Red Larch quest, you guys level up! You’re both now on Level 3!”
Ahh, Level 3. I love getting to Level 3. It’s a real milestone for any fresh character, a mark that this character has gotten into his adventuring groove. For Evan, his gunslinger gets to speciallise with an archetype choice. We go through his options, from long-ranged Snipers all the way to dual-pistol-wielding Desperadoes, but in the end, we felt that fate had given Folax the ‘Belt of Hill Giant Strength’ for one obvious choice: the Close Quarter Combatant. Ignore disadvantage in firing melee-range, bonus AC, and being able to use Strength instead of Dexterity when using his rifle? So with a few pencil strokes on his character sheet, Folax has now become the front-line heavy hitter of the party.
Jojo gets to go through her new list of Cleric spells. There are quite a few, but some potentially interesting ones jump out. I tell her, “With ‘Locate Object’, you can always sense the direction to an object that is familiar to you. Sort of like Spiderman’s tracking device which he sticks to getaway cars.”
Jojo thinks. “Hmm, familiar objects..” Suddenly, light dawns in her head. “Ooo, I know! I can use this on my sporks! Oh my gosh, that’s so awesome - I finally have a use for my spork collection! I can give a spork to someone, or stick a spork on something, and I can always track it!” We high-five each other and write it down.
Yeap, I love it when spells are used creatively!
I'll allow Tempest to use her sporks like the spider-tracer, to a longer range than the 1000 feet as stated in the PHB. Just put it down to her dragonborn 'hoarding' instincts.
This fight was really the test to see if the kids characters were powerful enough to face some of the tough encounters in the PotA campaign. I'm glad to see that they've pretty much passed with flying colours! The number of 20s that were rolled were quite out of the ordinary, and I'm glad that most of them went the kids' way.
I feel like this session ends Season 1 of the kids adventure series. The next session, things get interesting when I manage to convince my wife to play D&D with us! Tune in next time!