Onyx

Planning stage

Still in planning stage, waiting for friend’s game to wrap up.

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Name change

I wasn’t happy with the old name of the campaign/country – Savenswift, so I’ve changed it to something simple to remember, Onyx.

Still making lots of updates and filling in details here and there.

First game is in two days. I think most of the players are done making their characters. Its good for them cause they won’t have to spend the first session making characters. Bad for me though cause I don’t have a real solid plot and events ready yet. Off work tomorrow, so I will spend tonight and tomorrow coming up with a few encounters and some kind of introductory subplot.

Haven’t run a game in a long time. Should be interesting.

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First and Second Sessions Summary

The first and second sessions of play went like this:

The party wakes up. Its pitchblack and cold wherever they are. Some stumble around and discover they are in round stone room of some sort. The wizard casts Light on his mustasche and illuminates the room. Behold, they are in a round stone pit in the ground, covered with a metal grating. With them they find one other is imprisoned with them, an old man shaking and spouting nonsense to himself crouched against the wall. No one is shackled and all their gear save mundane clothing has been taken.

Then they remember what happened; all had been travelling seperately to the capitol city of Stoneguard for some reason or another. And all had been ambushed and captured by the Kobalds. Bloodthirsty kobalds with the stink of blood all over them.

Introductions are made and they all agree they must work together to get out.

They try to get information out of the old man, but he continues to pay little attention. Occasionally he mutters something about the kobalds trying to summon Tiamat, laughing amidst his incoherancy. “They came… found it unfinished. If only they knew – HAHAhaha – its not their beloved dragon god they call to this plane…”

A girl’s scream echos through the dungeon and into the pit, the party knows they mustn’t waste time. They get straight to figuring out how to get out. The kobalds didn’t suspect they had captured intelligent prey that doesn’t need to be bolted down to still be deadly.

A kobald rattles the bars above them shouting Draconic at the party for making so much racket, and walks off. The elf Lucan’s sensitive ears hear a jingling coming from the kobald as it walks away – Keys! Now they’ve got a plan. Furiously, the party shouts and makes a racket until the kobald stupidly comes to shut them up once more.

The dragonborn is waiting for it, digging his claws into the stone wall 10 feet off the ground, he suprises the Kobald and grabs its spear from him. The halfling, Mel, pulls out the daggers the kobalds failed to find on her. [but they did find her lockpicks, oops] and tries to hit the kobald but the grating and angle were too difficult and she fails. The dwarf wizard Bartleby attempts a magic missile and too fails to hit the stunningly lucky kobald. Even the elf improvises and tosses his shoe at the kobald. Miss. It’s initiative comes up and it makes haste out of sight. Not good for the adventurers.

So they resort to doing it the old fashioned way and break out by attacking the hinges of the gate with the spear and some magic missiles. They are free. They once again hear the screams from a distance and get out of the pit. They are in a room not much bigger around than the pit they crawl out of. So into the adjacent hallway and into the small unlocked room across from the pitroom. Excellent! Our stuff!

Among the weapons and backpacks, they find something strange. A set of 5 intricately crafted cloth dolls. Each is very detailed. The party surmises these dolls do not look like themselves. The old man approaches and takes the dolls lovingly for himself, talking to them like old friends. The elf who found them shrugs and says “ok…. lets get moving.”

The party soon figures out this isn’t a place of kobald design. Its a temple, and an old one at that. The hallway is strewn with impassable caved-in rooms and corridors, leading them to a big room where they find the kobalds and a couple big rats waiting for them. After a few close calls and one devastating Flaming Sphere courtesy of the wizard, they reduce the pack to one poor Kobald slinger. He freaks and bolts away into a small hole dug into the wall. The party takes a moment to gather themselves. They investigate a small library they passed earlier and find old tomes of a language they are unable to read. They show the books to the old man and he says the “old priests were summoning Dialdra” and mentions that the books contain Primordial script and runes.

“Dialdra is a fallen god… well not really a god of this plane anyway.” They press for more but the old man lapses back into gibberish and wanders off arguing with one of his dolls. “I know its not time yet!”

One of the tieflings approaches a stewpot cooking in the fireplace and finds humanoid bones floating in the soup.

After a moment, they are reminded of the situation as a girl’s scream is heard coming through the large doors on the other side of the big room. But its barred from the other side. Nothing to pick and way out of their league to break open, the party cautiously enters the small hole the kobald scampered into, since it was close by the big double doors, they hope the dug out tunnel will lead them to the girl. Led by the halfling who is unhampered by the small passage, they all enter the small tunnel.

It winds around but eventually leads to what they assume is on the other side of the big double doors.

Just as she was about to exit the tunnel, the halfling Mel successfully perceives the kobald stealthily waiting next to the hole with a spear ready to skewer whatever walks out. The combat has resumed.

The room is large, and as the party makes their way in to join in the combat they find a huge ball-shaped stone boulder covered in glowing runes is floating in the center, in front are 3 platforms caked in blood. Sacrificial pedestals. And just as they peek in the room, a Kobald Wyrmpriest finishes its chanting and cuts the heart out of a male victim on the center platform. But where’s the girl? She’s in a cage on the ground off to the side, presumably the next victim waiting.

Radiant blazes, scorching bursts, swords and spears. The floating rock pulses with light as the poor man dies on the pedestal, his heart somehow still beating outside his body. The wyrmpriest drops the heart next to the dying man and joins the combat, throwing orbs of fire at the party as his dragonshield guards fight with sword and shield.

And that’s it so far. We only get 3 hours per week to play, so all of this is from roughly 4-5 hours of play. Half of session one was spent finishing a couple character sheets. This is basically our first 4th edition game, and I haven’t DM’ed in a long long time so I’m keeping it simple and linear for now.

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Session 3: Finally done with combat!

I’m mad at myself because I lost a full write-up of this session somehow. I remember typing it all out, but I suppose I must not have actually posted it. And now I’m remembering just how detailed it was. :(

sigh

Characters:

Mel – Halfling Rogue

Chant – Tiefling Paladin

Captain Edge – Tiefling Warlord

Akteia – Tiefling Warlock

Lucan – Elven Ranger

Kade – Dragonborn Fighter

Bartleby Biggins – Dwarf Wizard. Absent this session.

A quick summary then. The battle continues. Mel, the halfling, picks the lock on the girl’s cage and frees her. But the girl heads straight to the dying man, and attempts to shove his heart back in his chest. She’s panicking a lot.

The dragonborn falls unconscious, but the tiefling paladin Chant heals her.

Finally they manage to kill one of the kobald dragonshields and the wyrmpriest. The Dragonborn Kade intimidates the last kobald left alive, trying to interrogate him. But the kobald is useless so Kade skewers him on her spear.

At this point the enemies are dead and the crazy old man walks in, drinks a potion, and is suddenly completely sane. He calls the creature being summoned Dialdra, and explains that the kobalds thought they were summoning Tiamat, their dragon god. But it seems Dialdra was what the long dead priests were actually calling. Whatever happened, the spell was left undone, and the kobalds inadvertantly finished it by sacrificing people to the giant stone orb floating in the great chamber.

The old man produces his 5 intricate dolls from his robes and begins a spell on them. They float into the air and all sorts of magical energy begins to swirl around the area.

That was the end of session 3.

======== DM’s Notes ========

Trying to improvise from just a story outline is very difficult. I didn’t know what the captured kobald should say. Also, I didn’t have a plan for what the girl would do when she was freed from the cage. This is why a good character history is necessary, so you can improvise their actions like any other PC you play, and just let the game play out from there.

How can I anticipate things like Mel attacking the girl she just freed from the cage? Granted the girl was acting kind of funny, apparently doing something to the dying man on the sacrificial pedestal, but still… I thought I made it clear she was trying to help him.

These monsters were a bit too strong for the PC’s. I don’t like how long it took to kill them, nor do I like my players’ characters to miss more often than not. It makes players feel bored and useless, especially when other people are rolling really well unusually often and are killing the monsters one after another.

So next encounter will be equal level to the PC’s.

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Session 4: Game Day before Christmas

The session starts with the old man casting a spell upon his intricate collection of dolls. In the chamber the giant stone orb pulses with energy, something evil lurking within. The characters stand and watch, always probing for answers.

The dolls transform into people. All naked.

The people share a couple words with the old man. He tells them that something is not as he thought. It is not Dialdra that is being summoned. He doesn’t know what is taking its place.

The people begin their own spells, pulling various forms of energy from the surroundings onto their own bodies.

A gorgeous tiefling woman pulls the fire from all the torches and a firey white armor bursts into existance on her body.

The quiet young eladrin girl pale as snow calls to her the bones scattered about the chamber. The air around her grows cold and a purple black energy surrounds her as the bones form armor upon her body.

A burly muscled human man summons bolts of lightning from the roof and his body transforms into metal crackling with bright blue arcs of electricity.

A small halfling dude seems to pull a green mist out of the walls while channelling lightning into himself as well. He becomes pure blue energy surrounded by the green mist.

Finally, a seven foot tall 400+ lb human man laughs with a deep voice as he stomps the ground, causing the chamber to tremble, rocks and dirt fly at him and are absorbed into the man until he appears to be made of nothing by stone and earth. Sparkling gems are visibly peppered in his skin and his eyes are like polished emeralds.

Each approaches one of the player characters and asks to “burrow” their weapon. Most ablige and reluctantly relinquish their possessions. Mel and Akteia’s daggers, Chant’s sword, Kade’s spear, Lucan’s bow, and even Captain Edge offers up his homegrown organic armblades, which the large stoney man breaks off.

In the hands of these people, the items transform into energy-empowered tools of destruction. The old man approaches Bartleby and takes his cane (which Bartleby uses as a makeshift staff). It transforms into a magnificent ornate staff.

Some of the PC’s are approached by these powerful beings. The firey Shiana introduces herself to Captain Edge, quickly kisses him on the neck, says “Look for me later…” and walks back to her friends. The quiet young necromancer girl walks up and hugs Akteia. She cries a little as she does so. And finally, the old man shakes hands with Bartleby, thanking him and mentioning “I’m afraid this will be the last we see of eachother.”

The chamber begins to crumble as the stone cracks apart like an egg. A vile black monster stirs within. Red eyes dot its skin and peer at the people below it. The old man shouts “Now my friends, you must go, this foe is beyond your capabilities. I believe your halfling friend knows the way out.”

The girl harkens for the adventurers to not leave behind the body of the poor man who died on the pedestal. Chant reluctantly grabs the body and hoists it over his shoulders.

With that Mel leads the party back around, to the kobald holes she found during the fight. As the party leaves the stone egg hatches and a giant black creature erupts into the air. Shaped like a dragon but covered in black oily skin and dotted with red glowing eyes. In place of wings are long black tentacles. The energy infused NPC’s immediately begin combat with it. The last thing the PC’s hear is the old man shouting something about “Something has absorbed Dialdra and took its place in the summoning egg, only that can explain this monstrocitiy!”

A man calls to the group from the other end of the kobald-made passage he asks if someone named Pemy is with him, at which the girl screams to him with joy in her voice – “Cassiano, I’m here!”

The group exits into a storm outside, it appears to be daytime, despite the rain. They find a human man in leather armor in his 30’s outside waiting for them. They briefly explain what’s happened and make haste to the city and out of the rain.

They find their way to the road, where Bartleby’s servant Jobert paces back and forth calling out for his master. After a quick scolding for running off at the first sign of trouble, Jobert attempts to appease his master by disrobing so he can shelter his master from the rain.

The man says he is Pemy’s brother and holds her shoulder as they make their way to the gates of the city. At the gate the man has an unusually brief word with the guards and the huge portcullis is raised to allow the group entry.

The man thanks the party for rescuing Pemy, points the way to a tavern and inn for them to stay at if they need, and also a temple for Chant to take the body to. He hands them a bag of goldpieces as a token of appreciation and departs with Pemy by his side.

The party goes the Tavern & Inn [Which I unfortunately have no name for.. “bad DM, bad!”]

After partying a little, the characters retreat to their rooms for the night. Just as they are getting settled, deafening booms and flashes of light very unlike the natural thunder and lightning startle some of the PC’s who took rooms on one side of the Inn. They rush to their windows to witness in the distance, in the direction where the kobald-infested temple was in fact, it seems like a small volcano erupts. Out of the crater flies the giant black creature covered in eyes, followed by small balls of light. They party surmises its the old man and his friends battling whatever it was that hatched from the stone egg. The fight rages on for a few moments, and just as the creature appears to be losing, it escapes into the storm with the “planeteers” in hot pursuit. All fade into the distance and all that’s left is the storm.

Bartleby wastes no time and sends Jobert to gather the other characters down in the tavern for some kind of meeting.

They all eventually meet in the tavern and some argue about why they can’t go back to sleep. Bartleby demands they need to do something. It is now that some reveal strange marks on various parts of their bodies which appeared just after their encounter with the old man’s friends. What the marks mean, and who (and who doesn’t) have them will have to wait for the next session, since we ran out of time and I ran out of ideas.

======== DM’s Notes ========

With the chaos of the holidays, I was unable to plan much for this game, and once again ran from a rough outline. The party has advanced about as far as I’ve planned in any usable detail. They seem to enjoy themselves, so I can’t be doing that bad.

I had lost some notes I made about Pemy and Cassiano, so I had to make up their names on the spot as I couldn’t remember what I planned to use. No big deal. I actually like these name’s anyways.

The old man and his friends got lots of laughs and people pointing out the obvious Captain Planet references. I know one of the golden rules of DMing is not to upstage the player characters with your own NPC’s, so I tried to rush through the scene, basically introducing these powerful beings and immediately rush the PC’s out the door.

I built the suspense as much as I could about what was in the stone egg. The players knew something really big and really powerful was inside, and I wanted them to get the idea that they would probably have to run away from it. Still, I think the player’s were reluctant in utilizing their Daily powers for fear that they would have to fight whatever it was in the end. I guess that’s reasonable and I won’t make them go through that again for awhile.

So far the game is fairly light. I’ve presented a few things for the party to investigate, a couple recurrent NPC’s, and hopefully a solid reason for them to stick together, because not all of them see why they should.

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Session 5: First Game of the Year

We left our adventurers at Tavvy’s Bar and Inn. After a brief late night meeting, they decided to leave things till morning.

The next day they get to work. The group has discovered that most of them have a strange scar on one of their palms. A couple members are sporting a similar mark on other parts of their bodies – Captain Edge has it on his neck where Shiana kissed him, and Akteia’s got a large mark covering her back. Earlier, the young pale necromancer girl they met in the Temple of Dialdra hugged her for no apparent reason. So the group assumes the Old Man and his friends had something to do with the marks.

Onward to the nearest Temple of Ioun! Apparently, Ioun is a god of knowledge, and Bartleby hopes they’ll be able to identify the mark. The city is large, and the group finds what they’re looking for easily. Inside, the temple houses possibly the largest library the characters have ever seen. After hours of perusing the countless books, they finally find a clue. A portion of the mark resembles a family crest of sorts, belonging to the Mayne family. The Mayne’s have been residents of Stoneguard since the city was founded hundreds of years ago. And amongst the records, the group finds a member of the family named Shiana Mayne who lived in the city over 200 years ago.

And so the tale of Shiana Mayne was revealed. A commoner in the shopping district, a daughter of hatmaker, Shiana was a young woman finishing her training as a paladin of Bahamut. A local gang had for a long time terrorized and exploited her community, and Shiana was destined to put a stop to it. She rallied her neighbors and fought back. In the ensuing battle, in a moment of desperation, Shiana channeled divine power into her body, becoming a vengeful being of fire and light. She single-handledly vanquished the second-in-command, a monstrous Dragonborn known for being a ruthless and unstoppable warrior-for-hire. The gang leader fled the city and was never heard from again. Shiana relinquished her newfound powers and returned to her normal form, but from that moment onward, she would be remembered as Shiana, The Radient Blaze.

The group seeks more information, and rushes over to the temple of Bahamut, who must have more to the story. Indeed they do. The heroes learn that Shiana stayed and fought the good fight in the city for a couple years before inexplicably leaving to the west, not saying where she was going. Along with this, the scholar of Bahamut tells them of the last know descendant of the Mayne family, who passed away a few decades ago, and where to find his last known address, for any information on where Shiana might have gone to.

This leads them to the last home of a tiefling man named Maldos Mayne. The Mayne’s must have aquired great wealth through the years in the wake of Shiana’s fame, because Mayne Manor was one of the largest estates within the city walls. A mansion two stories tall with an attic and basement. But it appears to be abandoned and boarded up. The group asks the neighbors about the house. One old lady remembers Maldos and how he was found dead in the bathtub, probably just from old age. She then, almost as an afterthought, mentions the two families who took up residence in the house later. The first stayed for two days before packing up and moving out. The second family never left the house alive. It’s assumed the father killed his wife and two daughters before killing himself.

After finishing her story, the halfling Mel appears with news that the cellar door is “unlocked.” So the group says goodbye to the old lady and enters the abandoned manor through the cellar.

Not much is in the basement aside from piles of really old stuff, including some creepy children’s toys. Namely some damaged ceramic dolls which disturb some of the party members. But that doesn’t stop old Bartleby from grabbing up one of the dolls and stashing it away for god knows what purpose. Also are the remnants of the wine collection. The elf Lucan proceeds to open up a 50 year old merlot and begins chugging it like water. He grabs the other 4 bottles.

The halfing is digilant in looking for structural abnormalities, and spots some water damage in the ceiling on the south end of the basement. After a few minutes of silent searching in the basement, they end up empty-handed and decide to go upstairs. Out of the basement they emerge into the kitchen. Nothing but very old and decayed food packaging and rusty pots and pans. Light seeps through the boarded up windows to illuminate the interior of the house just enough to not bump into eachother. So far no clues about what happened in the house, much less anything about Shiana. Through the kitchen and into a large dining room, dusty ornate plates line the table. Why has no one looted this house?

Again, just a boring room. Left into the main foyer, at the end of the dining room into a downstairs bathroom. Kade strides into the bathroom and find a tub filled with slimy green putrid water. She stirs her spear through the sludge but doesn’t feel anything unusual.

Akteia ventures off on her own into the foyer. Two grand staircases circle around the center of the foyer upstairs to a balcony. In the middle stands a bust pedestal. She examines it and can make out an inscription claiming it as Maldos Mayne. The bust is of an old tiefling man, with sharp features and grand long horns. He must have lived to a ripe old age.

Unfortunately, we ran out of time and the game ended for the night.

====== DM’s Notes ======

I regret that – again – most of this session was completely improvised. I have a basic outline covering the next few sessions, but don’t have many details or specific encounters ready for them. Life gets in the way as usual, but I definitely can’t keep making it up as I go along. Not only is it incredibly difficult, but it makes for dissappointingly predictable gameplay and uninteresting story. And with what I have in mind for the next session, I have to plan ahead.

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