A Fountain of Party Members

A Fountain of Party Members
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The ranger cast silence to get away from the barbarian’s running commentary.

After having freed the unusually buff wizard Dimsdale Buttertub from his cell, the party returned to the yuan-ti sleeping quarters, defeated the curious lizard folk, and reclaimed the halfling’s possessions. Being the completionists that they are, the group opted to backtrack a bit and head through a set of doors that they hadn’t yet investigated.

The found themselves in a room which appeared to be dedicated to yuan-ti meditation, as it was filled with reed mats and reeked of some kind of incense. In the corners were two large statues of yuan-ti deities which had rubies for eyes, but at the feet of one of the statues was a rusty suit of armor, and at the feet of the other was an unconscious tiefling in cultist robes.

Suspecting something amiss, the ranger nudged the cultist with his foot while drawing back on his bow. While still under watch, the party assisted the tiefling warlock by healing his wounds and helping him back to consciousness just as snakes began to pour into the room like soccer hooligans from the local pub. Although the party prepared to fight several hundred individual serpents — somehow — they were surprised to find that the snakes coordinated their actions and slithered into the suit of armor, effectively creating some really creepy Helmed Horror that was ready to take on the party. Now at full strength, however, the group proved to be more than a match for the animated suit, scoring several critical hits to the armor which sent the snakes slithering back into the walls *shudder*.

Still, the party decided they could use a rest, so they retired to the prison block, which was deemed the most defensible area they’d encountered thus far. After a short rest, they used the keys previous used to release Dimbulb Butterball to open the heavy metal door at the far end of the room and found themselves outside what appeared to be a yuan-ti temple.

Several large stone serpent statues lined the walls and lead to a dais upon which was an altar. Several yuan-ti were engaged in some kind of ritual there, but the party’s attention was drawn to the priestess who seemed to be in the readying some kind of ritual sacrifice of a bound and bloodied dwarf who matched the description of Varrum the White.

Although the yuan-ti had heard the party’s approach and were waiting patiently for the group, the party wasted no time opening fire in the crowded temple. Shrewdly, the warlock cast Polymorph on the ritual priestess, turning her into a rabbit that bounced ineffectively around the room. A yuan-ti abomination, a massive serpent with a wicked scimitar, slithered forth to engage the party at their chosen choke-point in the doorway to the room.

BunnyWithBackpack

Actual Polymorph representation

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I think this is the shortest recap I’ve written so far.

We gained our fifth and final player this week, a tiefling warlock, whose introduction was rather abrupt but after having spent two weeks trying to get our previous player into the mix, I wanted to make sure everyone was involved this week. His basic story is that he was trailing the cult for reasons as yet unwritten, infiltrated their party as a cultist himself, was discovered, assaulted, and left for dead as Varrum’s group found they were on the end of a losing battle with the yuan-ti.

I realized from the few encounters this week that the period of pulling punches is kind of over; the original text required two Helmed Horrors, but unsure of how effective the party would be, I cut it down to one. I should have left them both in there. The temple yuan-ti are at full count, but not full strength: I had originally had FG set enemies HP to “Maximum”, but dialed it back to “Standard” which I thought would be more manageable. Not only should it be a challenge, but because we’ve only got two hours, I want to make sure things flow well and that we can get to gameplay other than just a single fight per night. Still, I think I might set the HP to “Random”, which will assign HP to enemies between their potential minimum and potential maximum hit dice values.

Now with five players, the advancement is slowing considerably. We’ve got more role-playing going on, which is always nice, but can take up a lot of time if it’s RP for RP’s sake. The barbarian has a schtick where he thinks he’s a wizard with a tendency to call out his spells that are really just melee attacks, and now the warlock seems to be very interested in engaging the barbarian IC, turning this into the weirdest episode of The Odd Couple that has never been filmed. We spent a good amount of time during the short rest watching these two getting to know one another, which was fun, but we certainly want to make sure that everyone is paying attention to the game as well, and not just using this time for improv theater. In fact, something happened that I think totally went over everyone’s head because there were so many voices going on that I don’t think anyone heard me mention it multiple times. I’m not going to mention it here and let them backtrack, though. We’ll just call this a Learning Moment.

We also had an issue with Discord about 3/4 of the way through the night, where voices were becoming garbled for some. Eventually it seemed to come back online, but it was disconcerting to say the least. For a few minutes we tried playing via the chat window, and while it would certainly cut down on the amount of superfluous method-acting, it was a terrible and painfully slow way to get info across.

And a shout out to our bard Tinda for her liveblog of the session. If you want more details on the session, want to see how D&D 5E plays out, or just want to wonder how we get anything done, check it out!

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