Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Starting spells for bards

I've made some determinations on Zargon's starting spells. First, a review of the relevant passage from the bard class description (2e PH, p. 42):

Since bards are dabblers rather than full-time wizards, their spells tend to be gained by serendipity and happenstance. In no case can a bard choose to specialize in a school of magic. Beginning bards do not have a selection of spells. A 2nd-level bard begins with one to four spells, chosen either randomly or by the DM. (An Intelligence check must still be made to see if the bard can learn a given spell.) The bard is not guaranteed to know read magic, as this is not needed to read the writings in a spell book. The bard can add new spells to his spell book as he finds them, but he does not automatically gain additional spells as he advances in level. All spells beyond those he starts with must be found during the course of adventuring. The bard's casting level is equal to his current level.

This is fairly clear. I'm going to honor the by-the-book rules, for a few reasons: first, there's no compelling incentive to deviate with a house rule; second, the above limitations reinforce that the bard is merely a “dabbler,” as opposed to a specialist wizard or mage; and third, the party is at a safe point with time on their hands such that new spells can be acquired from other characters.

In the interest of moving things forward, I rolled that the following two spells are in Zargon's starting spellbook:

  • Grease
  • Mending

Of note, I rolled a 2 on 1d4 for the number of spells. Both “chance to learn spell” rolls succeeded, and the specific spells were rolled randomly from the 1st-level wizard spell list. While it can be argued that a 4th-level bard could or should have additional spells beyond what a 2nd-level bard would know (i.e., acquired through adventuring), we haven't set that precedent with anything else (magic items, gold, etc.) in the campaign, so I'd prefer not to start now. (And again, the party is at a point that Zargon can easily expand his repertoire before his first real adventure.)

Hopefully this seems reasonable enough to everyone?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

#24: Dagger's Deep

With the decision made to depart for Mirabar in the morning, we settle what few matters remain open in Xantharl’s Keep.  Odesia says that we have honored our end of the agreement to the best of our ability and agrees to meet us in Mirabar late in the spring, when possible for her and her husband.  Arrangements are made to meet at the East Gate of Mirabar come Greengrass; if something delays their arrival, we will return every third day at the same time and appointed place.

Before retiring for the night, I leave the gates of Xantharl’s Keep to see if the hound I befriended, if that is not too strong a word for so ephemeral a relationship, is anywhere to be found.  After an hour alone in the Lurkwood at night he finds me, and I share half of the dried meat from my pouch with the hound, a smile on my face.

We awaken in the morning to a light snow, not unsurprising given the proximity of the winter season.  We conjure forth our mounts and before long, Xantharl’s Keep disappears behind us into the Lurkwood.  Travel is fast and uneventful, and at midday of the second day, we encounter a small grouping of stopped caravans, four wagons each drawn by a pair of horses, as well as nine men.  One of the horses appears to be wounded or lame, a small group of men huddled around it.

Audric hails the caravan, and an older man, having seen perhaps fifty winters, steps forth and answers our hail, revealing his name to be Perhegan Mercantor.  They’ve traveled a day from Mirabar and were forced to stop early as one of their horses came up lame.  As the wagons are all heavily laden with a variety of goods, a lame horse with no extra beasts of burden available would greatly slow their progress.  Knowing Bonie to have cared well for Elseba, I ask if she has experience seeing to the health and tending of horses.  She nods, and she and Audric approach to take a look at the animal.

We share a few words with Perhegan, briefly describing our short stay in Xantharl’s Keep and intention on traveling to Mirabar.  “What was your business in Xantharl’s Keep?” Perhegan asks inquisitively, “and what skills might you possess?”  Feeling no real reason to hide anything, we explain that we are traveling missionaries, and that we plan to stay over in Mirabar for the winter.

“I see, well met!” Perhegan replies.  He introduces us the robed man, named Renwal, and makes our introduction to the rest of the group.  All appear to be rough tradesmen, the traveling merchant sort, with two exceptions.  One is a robed man, perhaps a priest or a mage, though no sigil or talisman is apparent.  The ninth man is outfitted in leather armor and carrying an assortment of weapons and is introduced as Zargon. 

“Perhegan, it’s back!” one of the men cries, pointing to the sky, where we make out the silhouette of a large flying creature overhead.  It is too large to be that of a bird, though not so large to be that of the dragon we encountered in the Lurkwood.  Could it be the same dragon 100 years in the past, however?  The men seem shaken and claim that this is the third time they have seen it.

Bonie remarks that the horse may have been overburdened, pointing to the heavily laden wagons.  Perhegan explains that he’s carrying food, ore, blankets, timber, armaments—just about anything you could think of.  It’s apparent that the horse will be unable to continue to carry such a heavy load, leaving Perhegan’s men in a predicament.  After some discussion, I offer to conjure forth a mount that should see them through a day of travel in exchange for the lame animal.  We also discuss sharing camp for the night in shared defense of whatever the creature may be that stalks them from the skies.

“You claim that you’re looking for somewhere to ply your trades over the winter,” Perhegan says, pointing to Audric.  “You should come with me!  Your skills would be immensely useful, and you would be welcome among my company at Dagger’s Deep.”  The settlement, he claims, is not on any map, “but it will be soon!” he exclaims with burgeoning pride.  We decide on a shared camp and make way for a site known to the traveling merchants nearby that should provide some cover.

On our trip to the campsite, we see the shape in the sky once again, this time looming closer, and the form seems distinctly draconic.  Perhegan’s campsite is not far away, so we press hard to reach the cover of the camp and surrounding trees, but unfortunately, we’re not fast enough.  The creature swoops low towards the collected men and horses in a dive, and we loose a volley at it.

Bonie lands a piercing arrow, and one of Perhegan’s men manages a hit with his crossbow.  Audric and I conjure arrows of acid and loose them at the swooping creature but miss as it dives into the crowd and attempts to snatch one of the men.  It misses with its pair of terrible hind claws and sails back into the air, wings flapping.  A second volley of arrows all miss, and I finish an incantation to provide those around me with some protection.  The creature is not a dragon at all, but a wyvern—a smaller, dumber, more aggressive kin of dragonkind, with no foreclaws and a dangerous poisonous sting for a tail.

“We must hurry!” Perhegan shouts, and we rally the men and gather the mounts, pressing towards the campsite.  We arrive, glad to be protected somewhat by the cover of the trees and try to make the camp defensible.  Upon request, he produces a bundle of spears, instructing the men to set them against the wyvern’s dive should it attack again.  No second attack comes, however, and we settle into camp for the night.

“Dagger’s Deep is a settlement being founded along the river to the north,” Perhegan tells us.  It’s a day away from the campsite over rough terrain, and he explains that there are others there with provisions preparing to winter over.  He offers to shelter us there through the winter if we agree to aid in the communal defense and betterment of the settlement.

Renwal is a mage, older than Perhegan by perhaps ten years, and longtime friend of Perhegan and his family.  He supportive of the initiative to settle Dagger’s Deep.  He claims to be a dabbler in the arts, having been impressed by our offensive spells used against the wyvern, and offers to exchange knowledge of the craft with me and Selben should we spend more time together.  

That evening, we convene to discuss our plans for the future.  Perhegan’s explanation of Dagger’s Deep reveals a remarkable amount of work that has been done, as well as a remarkable amount of work that would need to be done to see the settlement through the winter safely.  We share a conversation with Zargon, who explains that Perhegan is a visionary, with visionary ideals in his plans for Dagger’s Deep.  “Mirabar wasn’t built in a day,” he retorts, when we question how likely the success of such a small settlement might be.  Zargon’s words are inspirational, and it’s hard to deny their allure.

Speaking more with Perhegan, I attempt to discern who stands to profit most from the success of Dagger’s Deep, and how that profit is to be realized.  Perhegan explains that the placement along the river allows it to manage river traffic, once the number of men and equipment will support it, and that he intends to keep the river secure and to help ensure the flow of traffic while collecting levies from merchants and traders and travelers.  The plan sounds ambitious, but is not outside the realm of reason.  When questioned about the influence of Mirabar and how its leaders may react to the presence of Dagger’s Deep, Perhegan’s response is “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” which matches the man’s entrepreneurial spirit.

After some discussion within the group, we decide to make Perhegan an offer.  After some negotiation, he settles on a compromise.  “15 gold each per month, and we’re all happy,” replies Perhegan.  I look to Audric, expectantly, and Audric holds out his hand to seal the terms.  “Done,” he agrees.  Zargon raises a tune on his lute to commemorate the agreement, and all those gathered raise tankards and skins in a toast.

When we awaken the next morning, we notice immediately that Bonie is gone, and we’re overcome by a sense of déjà vu.   Taking a moment to examine our surroundings, Audric realizes that we’re in the vicinity of Minstrel’s Glade, and the dire tale told by Oreiron immediately comes to mind.  Fuck.  I leap to my feet to see if there’s any sign of Bonie’s path, and in the newly fallen snow, I discover a series of tracks leading to the east.  Immediately, I run into the woods following the trail, feeling a looming sense of dread that I can’t shake.

After a couple hundred yards, however, I come upon Bonie standing in the woods, facing me.  Her hair is down, where it is customarily up in a ponytail.  The sun rises behind her to the east.  Standing next to her, her hand on its head, is the dog.  “Look who I found,” she says, patting its head.  “He’s friendly.”

“You are a bad dog,” I say, relieved to find Bonie safe and surprised at how powerful the sense of worry was in that short time.  The dog plods over, nuzzles me, and I give it the remaining dried meat from my pouch.  “His name is Jakke,” she says with a smile.

Audric, Zargon and Selben approach from behind.  “Look who I found,” I say dryly, pointing to Bonie.  When Audric asks why she disappeared, she replies, “there’s always something to see out here.”  To the east, we see the hills upon which Kezia and the druids danced, what seems like ages ago.

Returning to camp, we find Perhegan getting the horses ready for a hard day of travel over rough terrain.  Perhegan explains that he’d prefer to avoid Mirabarran checkpoints, not yet ready to defend his claim and plan to settle along the river, instead cutting across hills to Dagger’s Deep.

Staring out at the Lurkwood, with a humor only Audric and I can possibly understand, I tell Zargon and the others that “100 years from now, this forest is going to have a huge bugbear problem.”

“Are you a fortune teller?” Zargon asks.

“No,” Audric interjects.  “He’s in the business of being right.”  With that, we break camp and begin our travels. 

We traverse the hills through somewhat recognizable territory, though our attention is mostly on the wagons and the safety of the beasts of burden and conjured mounts, sparing more than a few glances to the clouds in the hopes that the wyvern has moved on.

Late that day, in the distance, we see a small river keep with a handful of people walking around, as well as the frames of several cottages under construction.  There are several tents spread about, and two keelboats moored at the river shore, with several large bonfires around the camp.  As we approach, people begin to hail our arrival, and Perhegan dismounts the wagon to meet a girl who rushes forward to meet him.  Perhaps 17 years old with dark brown hair, she calls out “Father, father!” and embraces Perhegan in a hug.  He introduces her as his daughter, Edine.

Perhegan introduces us to a few notable people, among them the Stonehand brothers, who are masons overseeing the construction of the keep and tower, as well as Tarrsh, who serves as blacksmith.   We are shown around Dagger’s Deep, and find that a waterwheel is under construction, and near it the start of a small masonry tower. 

One of the armed men we encounter leads a goblin that looks like it’s carrying bricks.  When Audric asks about it, Perhegan explains.  “That man’s name is Weald, and I know it’s a little unusual, but he was successful in domesticating this creature some time back.  It hasn’t proven to be a danger, though we do keep it chained at night.  We are hard pressed to refuse good help.”  When asked if the goblin is a slave or here voluntarily, Perhegan replies that it’s more of a servant or a pet.  Perhegan has an arrangement with Weald, who serves as man-at-arms, and the goblin servant is part of the package.  Though I don’t look kindly upon any form of enslavement, man or beast, I let the matter rest for now, as we are Perhegan’s guests.

As the group begins to break up and investigate our new home, I approach Bonie.  “Where should I set up our tent?” I ask her.  She blushes unexpectedly, which is replaced quickly by a rather stoic look as she points at a small plot of empty land near the river.

Indicating to Selben to set up his own tent nearby, we begin to settle in, each of us finding tasks to occupy the day.  Already plans are starting to form, among them a small, shared shrine to Mystra and Malar, which Audric surprisingly supports without any argument.  Our work cut out for us, we unload our meager belongings and look ahead to the future.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Staying awake

During the events that went down in the mine, I found myself asking how long a character might remain awake and competent under strenuous activity in the face of exhaustion from lack of sleep? I haven't found any official rules on this yet, though it's possible that something already exists. In lieu of that, I've devised a quick system to employ if the situation ever comes up again. I don't expect this to be at all commonplace, though it seems like when it happens, it's likely very important.

  • A character or NPC can stay awake at full capabilities for a number of hours equal to 12 + Con score + 1d6.
  • After this point, each of the individual's six ability scores are temporarily halved (rounding down, hit points unaffected) every hour. Whenever any score reaches zero (0), the individual passes out.
  • A person passed out from exhaustion cannot be wakened for 1d8+8 hours, at which point they rise with scores restored to their normal values.

This all feels reasonable to me. Adrenaline lets you go as hard as you can for as long as you can, but at some point you hit the wall. When that happens, your ability to function drops off quickly. You can still manage to push for up to a few hours longer, but eventually either your mind or body gives out.

Mirabarran fire arrows

This week, as the players deliberated how to deal with the undead minions inside the cave blocked by the bonfire they'd constructed, I had to determine in my own mind what steps the mining company would take to combat the situation. After all, while from a DMing perspective it was important to give the PCs first crack at solving the problem, the score of individuals present beyond the party itself would still have to bear this burden in the party's absence, or failure.

The most pragmatic solution I could come up with was the use of fire arrows by the soldiers to fell the creatures from the cavern floor. This approach required the NPCs to either know or suspect that natural fire would still harm the undead, even though they'd already proved immune to “normal” weapons. I felt this was reasonable enough, particularly with the arrowheads also being doused in holy water.

Before allowing such a course, however, I wanted to make sure that it was actually feasible, and get an idea of how well it was likely to work. I ended up finding and reading the following four posts from a blog explicitly dedicated to warbow archery:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

This was pretty interesting, so thought I'd share. In the end, the fact that it was a short-range situation and the arrows would be shot through an actual raging fire gave me confidence that it should work, provided a reasonable amount of time to ready the ammunition beforehand. I also reduced the ROF (rate of fire) for these arrows to one/round, given the effort needed to ignite them, which felt similar to loading a bolt into a crossbow.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

XP awards for session 23

Through a slog of comments over the past several days (the most we've ever had on a post), the party finally reconciled the situation of the crypt uncovered within the mine. Whether or not any future consequences of this are brought to bear, I'm issuing a story award here and now of 2,000 XP each to Zeb and Audric, and 1,000 XP to Selben. Of note, Audric was energy drained earlier in the session, reducing his XP total to halfway between the minimum needed for 3rd and 4th levels (5,400, based on our rules for the Crusader).

New party totals, following the session:

  • Audric - 7,400
  • Zeb - 3,000/29,395
  • Selben (h) - 5,600

This award inches Audric back over the threshold for 4th level, so upon training for four days he can regain some of the abilities lost in addition to adding another hit die to his hit point total. Incidentally, the dividends also propels Selben to level 3 as a mage.

Training can be assumed to happen in Xantharl's Keep at the start of the next session.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

#23: A Fate Worse Than Death

It’s hard to reconcile our current surroundings with what we remember of Xantharl’s Keep.  Starting in the fall, a mining operation financed by Mirabar took up occupation in the village, a result of a deposit of electrum, a valuable metal, found within a hole in the earth in the Lurkwood.  Since then, the miners have moved in with their tents, and the presence of Mirabarran soldiers has been a constant nuisance and drain on the village’s food stores for the winter.  While some aid has been shipped in from Mirabar, it has not been enough to offset the resources that have been used up by the soldiers.

The current lord of Xantharl’s Keep, Arvnsen Greywind, is a retired Mirabarran soldier himself, according to a local produce seller with a wagging tongue.  Despite the obvious suffering of his residents, Greywind seems to favor the Mirabarran soldiers, a fact that is not lost on the residents of Xantharl’s Keep.

There is an inn within the village walls, though it’s not the same that we remember.  Out of curiosity, I inquire as to the price of a room as well as a warm meal, trying to gauge just how dire the situation may be.  Rooms are available—the soldiers and miners keep to their own camps—the rate is reasonable, a single gold piece per room per night.  I’m surprised to find that the rate also includes a meal, though the innkeeper warns us that it might not be the quality we would normally expect.  While conducting this business, I also purchase a sling and a handful of bullets for Selben, as well as a handful of dried meat, in the case that my canine friend is still around.  The price for this last item comes as a shock, though perhaps it shouldn’t—I part with a pair of gold pieces for the bounty.

As we meander around town, we find ourselves at the outskirts of the eastern edge of the village near the miners’ tents.  In a silent moment, we hear a lilting voice drifting on the air:
O’er pastures borne
o’ fields of green
The river I follow,
its waters clean
With the flow, I ride,
‘til my heart doth cling
To pastures borne
o’ fields of green
Nearby is a well, and at it is a woman drawing water and singing to herself.  Beneath her winter cloak, we spy a red dress and scarf—together with the way her hair is bound, we instantly recall the garb of Kezia.  I leave my Carcerus mantle with Selben, and approach slowly, trying to seem as nonthreatening as possible.

“Excuse me,” I say hesitantly, then feign surprise.  “Your clothes…for a moment, I thought you were someone I knew.  Are you from Xantharl’s Keep?”  The woman responds hesitantly, explaining that she and her husband are from Mirabar.  Her husband is one of the miners.  I explain that I knew a woman, Kezia, and that she dressed in a very distinctive way, and that I have not seen anyone dressed the same way since.  She reveals that she is from the river valley.

Awkwardly, I ask her if she and her husband would be willing to join us for dinner, explaining that we have acquaintances in the valley and that we intend to travel there, and that we’d like to talk about what we might expect along the way.  “Why don’t we visit the camp this evening?”  I assent, and when asked her name, she replies “Odesia.”

We pass the rest of the afternoon until the appointed time, then we head to the direction of the mining camps.  Lit by bonfires, we’re able ascertain that there are perhaps two dozen soldiers, and the same number of miners and laborers.  We find Odesia sitting with a man that we assume to be her husband.  He’s a miner and seems amenable to our introduction—his name is Laerch Strolgam.  Laerch is from Mirabar, but Odesia was raised by her people in the valley.  Knowing no other way to break the ice, I pull out my deck of crude cards and ask Odesia if she’s ever seen anything like this before.

“You would not have an easy time finding them—strangers don’t generally intermingle with my people freely.”  Going for broke, I ask their patience to listen to a short story, and they agree.  I share an abbreviated account of our history in the Khedrun Valley, leaving out some of the details that aren’t critical to the telling, but this time include our encounter with Kezia—something that we usually exclude, due to the holes our meeting with her pokes into everything.

“Do they have a name?” I ask, referring to the cards.

“In my language they are called Tarokka,” she explains, though says she is not a user of them herself, that she lacks the gift.  She left her family over a year ago to marry Laerch, who she met when he and his brothers were fishing upriver.  They fell in love, and she made the decision that she would leave her family to live with her husband in Mirabar.

Feeling the need to fully explain myself, I share the first part of the reading, pointing out who each card represents, laying out the cards as I come to each layer of the reading.

“While I do not bear the gift, I do bear some knowledge of the talent.  I feel a very ill omen about the mine.  If you will see to the safety of my husband and these miners, then we will take you to the valley when the weather breaks and the river can be traveled once again.”

Odesia explains that the miners have been trying to break through a wall for weeks, and as that has progressed, she has grown more and more wary of what may lay beyond that wall.  Her husband, Laerch, says that “When you marry a river maiden, you learn to listen to what she has to say in such matters.”  When asked what her people collectively call themselves, she responds “Keravela.”  It’s not a word I know, nor a language I understand.

Odesia explains that she’s not confident in the soldiers’ abilities to protect the miners and asks if we will investigate the cave ourselves.  I ask if we might have the evening to convene privately on the matter, explaining that it’s a decision that affects my comrades, and that I can’t make it alone. 

After some deliberation, Laerch points us to the captain’s tent, and we approach to greet the man.  He is flanked by guards, and they stand to return the greeting.  The captain’s name is Rale Cotchen, cousin to Laerch, and he explains that he’s overseer of the mining operation.  When asked how it fares, he explains that it’s progressing well, and that he hopes to be through the rock barrier in the next day or two.  His tone seems to question our purpose, which leaves me unsure how to proceed.

When Audric asks what he hopes might be beyond the wall, Rale smiles and answers “Great riches, we hope.”  Rale questions our purpose directly, and when we reply with vague indications of dangers beyond the wall, he smirks.

“You’ve been talking to the river maiden,” he replies.  “What share did she offer you?”

Taken by surprise by the question, not having any clue what he’s talking about, I react the only way I know how—violently.  I draw out a knife and throw it into the dirt at his feet, growling at him when he questions my motivations.  I explain through gritted teeth that we seek not riches, but that it’s part of a deal with made with Laerch and his wife, a deal that has nothing to do with the captain, his soldiers, or the damned mine.

“Well, if there are other things you seek from the girl, I would tread carefully there as well.  There are rumors that the child that she carries is not her husband’s.”  Ignoring the jab, I continue to stare the captain down, and he grins, seemingly with approval.

“Very well, then,” he says smiling.  Rale is planning on visiting the mine in the morning to check progress and welcomes us to accompany him as his personal guests.

“Done,” I reply sternly, grabbing my knife and slamming it back into its sheath.

We arrive at the appointed time near the eastern gate to the village, meeting a group of a dozen or so soldiers and miners in the company of the captain, as well as a guide from the village.  We march through the forest a fair distance until finally coming to a great hole in the earth surrounded by tents and many men doing work.  The hole appears to be a natural sinkhole which drops into darkness.  A soldier approaches to report to Captain Rale.  “There’s been an incident,” the soldier says grimly.  He points past the mine entrance to the tents beyond, where men look to be treating the corpse of a fallen miner.

“Only a couple hours ago, the miners broke through the rock wall, exposing the cavern beyond.  We were immediately assaulted by a putrid odor, that of death itself.  One of the miners climbed through with a torch to see what lay beyond, but as soon as he did, he began screaming.  The torch went out, and when we pulled him back his face and chest were bloodied, and the man was dead.  Three men quickly hoisted a boulder into place to reseal the opening.

When asked, the captain gathers the miners that were in the tunnel so that they might be questioned for more details.  For the most part, it’s more of the same.  One man, however, grimly states that he saw something.  “I was one of the men that pulled him out.  When we lifted the boulder back up and put it into place, I saw a hand reach from beyond the darkness, just for an instant before we covered the opening.”

Rale looks at us expectantly, indicating that this is the reason we’re here, and asks us how we intend to proceed.  The cavern below is wide enough for two to stand abreast, the rock wall in a tunnel perhaps 50 yards from the entrance.  I inform the captain that we require four men—two with lanterns, two with torches, and he mimics my response from the previous night.  “Done,” he replies, perhaps too quickly.

The scree of broken stone amid the ropes descending into the tunnel makes it difficult enough to traverse going down, but very difficult if we find ourselves in a position to flee quickly.  When we finally arrive at the boulder we are nearly overpowered by the stench of death.  Audric uses his familiar to peer through openings in the imperfect seal, and it is able to empathetically represent that there are multiple creatures beyond, dangerous and terrifying to the small animal.  Audric draws upon Mystra’s blessing to try and discern the nature of the threat beyond the hole, and his powers reveal a strong, malignant evil within.

Conjuring forth my most powerful abjurations, we instruct the guards to pry loose the boulder so that we can reveal what lies beyond.  Knowing the threat to be dangerous, Audric summons a pair of hobgoblins into the dark chamber, and the sounds of conflict are immediate, with screams piercing the darkness.  With a brief incantation, I bring forth a small magical light which illuminates the cavern and Audric begins to clamber through the opening.  We see the hobgoblins being mauled by a half-dozen creatures that, at first glance, I mistake for those from Shadfeld.  Upon further inspection, however, they appear to be true undead, with bulging, glowing yellow eyes and thin, wiry hair.  Fearful of our ability to effectively combat such a large number of foes, we pull Audric back through the hole.  Defending the opening should be easier than a pitched combat in an open chamber.

Our foes move quickly, and our tactics prove to be insufficient, as a pair of the creatures are immediately through the opening and upon us.  The soldiers and Bonie support us with bolt and arrow, but the missiles prove ineffective.  I conjure forth a shimmering, floating hammer adorned with fetishes of the Beastlord, as well as a blade of flame that extends from my palm.  Despite this, however, Audric and I are driven back by the creatures, one of them striking Audric, who is nearly overcome by a deep weakness and emptiness that saps his strength.  A soldier at his side falls as well, and we are nearly overtaken, with a third creature clambering through the hole to join the fray.

In desperation, I instruct Selben to use his powers to attempt to magically enlarge the creature climbing through the opening, hoping that it may stall its advance and buy us time.  Audric cries out for us all to flee, the warrior stepping into melee again to stymie the undead advance.  Unwilling to let Audric sacrifice himself, I stand at his side and echo his order to the others, and we are both assaulted by the creatures, another clawing at Audric again, draining the warrior of yet more will and strength.

Behind us, Bonie is the first to reach the opening to the mine and scrambles to the top, helping draw others up to safety.  We hear her cries for us to join the flight, and Audric and I withdraw, battling back the undead as we stumble to the mine opening.  Fortunately, the creatures do not pursue us into the daylight, and Bonie and the others help us climb out of the pit.

Bearing few wounds but spiritually broken, we stare down at the creatures below.  They hover in the darkness just beyond the reach of the sunlight, mocking our failure.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Read this!

This was a great read, especially in light of the dragon, and now, Audric getting energy drained. It summarizes well how I feel as DM (though not at all how you guys behave as players, thankfully!).