We [Go To] The Land Of The Ice And Snow
After taking a nice, well deserved rest in 1000 thread count Waterdhavian sheets, Adventure Co was ready to hit the free continental breakfast buffet before appearing before the Council to talk about their next move.
The party opted to go after the draakhorn, which the waladin (warlock-paladin…pa’lock?) mentioned seemed to present the greater threat of the two immediate opportunities. Missing cult leader? Not so bad. Collecting dragons at a secret evil lair for an all-dragon assault force? Yeah, sounds problematic.
Neverember introduced the party to Dala Silmerhelve, a Waterdhavian noble who had a good amount of unquestioned knowledge about the draakhorn for someone who doesn’t even prepare her own food. She told the players that Maccath the Crimson, a member of the Arcane Brotherhood, was known to have traveled to the Xtreme! northern region called the Sea of Moving Ice, chasing a rumor of the draakhorn. The Brotherhood is a well know conclave of egotistical scholars and magicians, and Silmerhelve suspected that Maccath was chasing the artifact more for bragging rights than for any insidious purpose.
The party was outfitted with cold weather gear, which the waladin put on only to suffer from heat-stroke in the Summertime climate that Waterdeep was currently experiencing. After he came-to, the party was whisked off to to the fishing village of Fireshear, north of Luskan. This small outpost was populated entirely by human fisherman and dwarven smiths and trade-post operators who were using Fireshear to move goods along the waterways and avoiding Luskan’s high tax rates. There the party was introduced to Larustah Half-Face and the crew of the Frostskimmr. Larustah would take the party through the treacherous Sea of Moving Ice in search of signs of Maccath the Crimson.
It wasn’t long after leaving Fireshear that the party ran afoul of the Sea’s first angry denizens, two giant octopi. The crew had seen enough hentai to know where this was going, so they viciously attacked the flailing tentacles before the sea creatures could do too much damage to the ship. Sadly, Sven Icehoen was pulled over the side and was never seen again.
With no noticeable sights to see (“Oh! There’s an iceberg! And another iceberg! And another iceberg!”), the crew opted to drag the boat onto an ice floe for the night. The go-getter waladin opted to take the first watch alongside several of the crew members.
Long about 1 AM, there was a muffled cry and the sound of something sliding into the water. A quick investigation revealed a five-pack of merrow, which are to mermaids as biker gangs are to your rebellious daughter. A quick rousing of the crew got everyone into the fight against these frosty interlopers. It wasn’t pretty, but only one additional crew member was lost. Here’s in remembrance of Dumer Deerbreaches and Wanashar Offalpile.
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Tonight I learned that Fantasy Grounds has some serious shortcomings when it comes to finding information as quickly as possible.
I knew there was an image of the draakhorn, so I pulled that up and shared it. However, I knew there was also a description of the artifact somewhere in the module…I didn’t know where. This really put a damper on that portion of the evening when I had to spend time looking for the damn information.
I also had some issues tracking down the intro info for the Sea of Moving Ice chapter. In fact, looking over it this morning, I realized there there was a significant chunk of information omitted that the party is going to need. I’ve already figured out a way to get the info to them, but I’m really irritated that FG’s module structure really depends on the linearity of the content, or on proper linking of information.
One thing I had tried to do to keep a lot of this info straight was to create stripped down versions of the module info in the Story panel. In these notes I’d write down the really important bits, make links to relevant encounters, items, tables, maps, etc. so I wouldn’t need to use the overloaded Story panel to try and track down the relevant info where and when I needed it. However, the party is asking more questions now, with more people, which is proving to require more information than I thought to distill into my notes.
So I’m going to have to eschew that shorthand option and stick with the actual module itself. The issue with RoT is that it’s decidedly non-linear, allowing the party to tackle certain tasks in random order. Not only do I have to prepare for the eventuality of the option the party will exercise, but I need to be able to get to that section quickly. My notes were trying to help out with this, but I guess it’s just causing more trouble than it’s worth.
Still, I spent some prep time last night drawing up A Matrix which listed all of the Council members, and all of the party members, and then envisioned how the Council member felt about each party member, based on the Council member’s “traits” listed in the module, and based on the past behavior of each party member. The two new members are still mostly blank slates for this purpose, but the original AdvCo members have definite styles that I suspect will continue to play out.
The giant octopi battle was pretty quick, since one escaped once the other was killed, but the merrow battle was kind of drawn out. Part of it was due to the high HP value of the creatures; they didn’t have impressive AC, but they had a decent amount of HP each (87, if I remember correctly, with an AC of 14). Thanks to all of the class, race, level, and magical bonuses applied, the party was hitting often, but that didn’t translate well into overall damage. Thankfully, the Frostskimmr’s crew was on hand to help. I was using “mob rules” to divide the crew into five groups of eight or so in order to allow them to participate, but to not have to roll attack and defense for 40+captain crew members. I think it worked pretty well, and the combo of the party and the crew was enough to take out the merrow, although it was still a protracted battle.
One thing I wanted to do was to ensure that we do stuff “by the module”. That means that the players need to spend time using this special encounter table to see if they spot anything, or run into an encounter of some sort. Of course this morning I realized that the module actually did tell the players what they were searching for, but I did not, so I have to fix that next time in order to get everything back on the same page.