Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Rime of the Frostmaiden Sessions 4 and 5: Monster Hunts

In the last session, the party traveled to Dougan's Hole and dealt with the winter wolves and mammoth there. Now, they head to Bremen to hand over the chwinga to the wizard Dzaan and investigate reports of strange dreams and voices.

Icewind Dale has been under a spell of endless winter for the last two years! Auril the Frostmaiden, goddess of winter's fury, has made her home in the Dale, and all suffer for it. As the land and its people die, a caravan brings a strange group to the Dale. They will change its fate, but to call them heroes may be inaccurate...

The Party
Avar, a Human Enchantment Wizard. Modeled after Rasputin, has a knack with owlbears. 
Elton John, Neutral Goblin Celestial Warlock. Fabulous, with a dark past. 
Neddie Elyeti, Neutral Bugbear Druid. Raised among the yeti of Icewind Dale. 
ORK, Neutral Half-Orc Barbarian raised among the Many-Arrows tribe of Icewind Dale. 
Stughok, Neutral Bugbear Rogue, in Icewind Dale to free an old friend from prison.

Handed over the chwinga
Established rapport with Nessie
Participated in a wrestling tournament
Made peace with Trex's kobolds
Slew the grell in the mines
Discovered and Attuned to the psi crystal
Reached Level 4!

The Game
  • The party departed from Dougan's Hole, setting course for Bremen. Along the way, they learned from a Bryn Shander deputy that a fisher in Targos had been murdered, and resolved to investigate. They sold off the remorhaz residue and the strange metal shards, which Stughok stole back. While on his invisible crime spree, he spotted a set of tracks made by invisible humanoids heading out of Bryn Shander and towards Kelvin's Cairn.
  • In the morning, their theft of the metal was covered by a larger pattern of petty thefts, including of the Northlook Tavern's stained-glass lamp. 
  • In Targos, they pulled the same trick, with Elton John disguising himself as Douglas Dwarf, selling the shards, then stealing them back that night. They also made contact with the son of the local innkeeper, who claimed to hear voices in his head when sparks appeared in the sky.
  • In Targos, they contacted the wizard Dzaan, bumping into another party of adventurers led by a red-haired woman leaving his home. They turned over the chwinga to him, and were handed a quick job to investigate the local lake monster.

  • After nearly getting their boat capsized, and learning that the party druid had a -1 in Nature, they spoke with the monster, dubbed Nessy, which turned out to have been awakened by a frost druid. The druid's name was Ravisin, and she was seen in the company of a white moose. The monster was attacking ships on her orders in the name of the Frostmaiden. The party left it to its own devices and faked the destruction of their rowboats. 
  • Dzaan was not pleased by the vagueness of their report, and gave them another job: travel to the top of Kelvin's Cairn and investigate the structure there. The party was miffed about their low pay, and Avar was concerned about what Dzaan would do with the chwinga. Together, they began to plot his demise, though they would hold off until they got paid.
  • They then returned to Targos to investigate the murder. The fisherman, Drebber, was known to be a member of the local underground fight club. They headed to the docks, and ORK got approached by a halfling in fancy clothes.
Promoter: Hey kid, ya wanna be a star?
Party: Does he have a Ron Edwards mustache?
GM: Yes.
  • They were led to an abandoned warehouse, filled to the brim with people and a raised ring in the center. Avar stayed invisible, spying, while Elton John made bets on the matches, and both ORK and Neddie got pulled behind the curtain to prepare. The leader of the fight club, a big game hunter named Mylbor Tafferac, sauntered on stage and riled up the crowd. 
  • The first match was Many-Arrows vs the Dead Three. Many Arrows was the stage name ORK had been given. Dead Three was a cultist, wavering from side to side as if drunk, until ORK gave him a punch and he... fell apart, revealing three halflings in a robe. They dodged and jumped around him, but ORK crushed them one by one and threw them into the crowd.
  • The next match was against the Chopper, a big human lumberjack. The fight was almost even, blood spurting all over the place, teeth spilling on the ring, but ORK again took the upper hand.
  • The final match was against the reigning champion, The Monolith. An eight foot-tall woman with grey, stony skin, a goliath, in a fur bikini. ORK was finally outmatched, getting knocked down, then getting back up with his half-orc resilience, only to be knocked down again. His hand dangled outside the ring, and Neddie tapped in, facing down The Monolith to save his friend. 
  • It turns out, an unathletic bugbear is really no match for a goliath at the top of her game, and she lifted him into the air and nearly broke his ribcage with a piledriver. Even when ORK, impossibly, got up a third time, he was simply thrown bodily into the stands.
  • ORK refused to leave, and the ringleader had to come down and slap some sense into him, physically dragging the half-orc backstage.
  • Elton John had made a killing on bets, and was directed to join them. He found all the fighters relaxing, with no serious injuries. The fight had been staged, all the blood and broken bones were special effects by prestidigitators, with Neddie and ORK coached to lose for drama. Of course, they had decided to go off script to manipulate the bets, and lost their share of revenue as a result.
  • At the same time, Ned had fallen head-over-heels in love with The Monolith, actually named Kwan, who was trying to pay off her massive gambling debts. 
Neddie: Only one other woman has ever treated me so cruelly, and that is my Lady. When you broke by ribs, you won my heart.
Kwan: *very uncomfortable*
  • Mylbor banned ORK and Ned from future contests, but gave them the information they were looking for. Drebber was worried about the lottery the last month, so Mylbor gave him some money to pay off the clerk so he wouldn't lose a top fighter. Drebber's wife confirmed the story. The party settled on the lottery as the common feature of all the victims. 
  • Their next stop was Termalaine, where the gem mine was shut down owing to a kobold infestation. They settled on payment with the town speaker, covertly bought some pickaxes, then made their way over. 
  • After killing some giant rats, they found what the locals called 'the Pit', a thirty-foot wide hole leading thousands of feet down into the Underdark, the source of the mine's regular infestations. Clearly, the only thing to do would be to jump down into it, hoping to land on a platform thirty feet below. That was exactly what ORK did, and Elton John had to use his Eldritch Blast to push ORK to safety.
  • That was when ORK discovered the kobolds, led by Trex, who was unusually well spoken. The party communicated with them via familiar and made their way through the tunnels to reach ORK's position.
  • Once reunited, they discovered that the kobolds had come from above, not below, and they had only wanted to seek employment with the miners, not scare them away. The party made a deal with them to negotiate with the people of Termalaine.
  • Their familiars spotted some large gem deposits and a strange fossil across the pit, accessible via rope and pulleycart. Avar jumped in and made it halfway across when a grell appeared from above and struck.

  • Avar managed to reach the other side, but the party's options were limited; ORK in particular had no ranged options! The spellcasters made do with Flaming Spheres, but the situation became dure when the grell struck a critical hit against Avar, paralyzing him with its venom and entangling him in it tentacles. He was on the other side of the pit, and the grell floated down into the darkness with him in tow.
  • ORK jumped down onto it, releasing Avar, and managed to avoid tumbling to his death by grabbing onto the wall. Elton John saved the day, using his Flaming Sphere to slay the abomination, and using his familiar to float a rope over to the two of them.
  • With the threat dealt with, Avar finally went for his goal, the skull, which they identified as the fossilized skull of a mind flayer. In prying it out of the wall, they cracked it, and found a huge gem inside. Avar took it and...licked it, before deciding to attune as soon as possible.
  • The session ended there, with the party promising to help the kobolds integrate, wondering what the crystal does, and looking to investigate both the druids in Lonelywood and the structure atop Kelvin's Cairn. Find out more in the next session of Icewind Dale, Rime of the Frostmaiden!

The fourth session was relatively uneventful, involving a lot of travel, and in particular discussion about where to travel. Much time was also spent dealing with shenanigans in the cities, which allowed me to improvise a bit of foreshadowing of another subplot. Still, the Lake Monster encounter was much less impactful than I hoped. It was near the end of the session, so I skipped the skill challenge associated with it. I don't think that would have improved the encounter. I suppose there just wasn't a conflict with my group once they learned that the monster was sapient and was operating 'for the Frostmaiden.'

The fight club quest was wholly homebrewed as a setpiece of the ongoing murder investigation, sicne I'm diverging so much from the book here. This also replaced the ordinary Targos quest, which is very strangely placed. It was a one-off thing, a bit silly, but fun.

Two-session reports seem like the way to go, especially now that I have more games going on. 

I'm doing level advancement by milestone, as prescribed in the book. Holy cow advancement is fast. Second level after the first session, third after the third, fourth after the fifth. I wondered when starting the adventure if reaching 12th level was plausible based on the length of time I could run the campaign. Now I have less worry. My baseline for level advancement was set by my Castle Xyntillan campaign, which is many times slower, excepting a couple huge finds.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to have to steal the fight club subplot. Yoink.