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August 27th, 2006

Not ANOTHER Monster!

Ran my Greyhawk game tonight; sirfox brought in his replacement for pholph's retired bard ... a catfolk druid by the name of Mia, and her leopard animal companion.

The characters are still chasing down the Book of Seven Serpents, and the sorceress who stole it from the Guild of the Arcane Path in the first place; the trail took them up into the Barrier Peaks, a vast mountain range infested with monsters.

Lots and lots of monsters.

Some of them were more troublesome than others; the displacer beast that was "ouch time" for them once upon a time, was more or less a speedbump this time around. And the ogre warband trying to recruit giants to serve under the banner of the Eldritch Eye got cut down like to much wheat, thanks to the group's ability to set up a forest ambush (rapidly becoming their favorite tactic). Two of the ogres went down pretty much in the first round. The toughest one, an adept by the name of Magic Tom, attempted to escape via invisibility -- twice!. The first attempt was ruined by Jaer (camstone's ranger/wiz/arcane archer) using a dispel magic scroll, while the second attempt was techinically successful, but the characters pounded on the square they knew the ogre to be in and managed to get through the miss chance for concealment often enough to kill it. So a large, invisible dead ogre went rolling down the side of the mountain.

This adventure didn't follow Vaarsuvius's Law of Random Encounters; in fact, it completely broke it. I worked out a wilderness encounter table based on the inhabitants of the Barrier Peaks, the geography I knew would be covered, and the plot elements that needed to happen, and I stuck to it. The probability of encounters went up or down based on the Survival checks to find a good campsite, whether it was night or day, and so on ... and then the dice determined how things went. Two of the random encounters were actually "rain," and one of them was a moose. But the rest of them were monsters.

The net result was a somewhat random trip from encounter to encounter, and Vaarsuvius does have a point that it was getting a little tedious by the end. When Jaer discovered a mountain troll wandering by, he wisely hid and let it keep on truckin' -- which is a good thing, as the group is all ECL 8 and the troll was CR 10. But strange as it may sound, tedium was sort of what I was going for -- they were wandering up into a monster-infested mountain range looking around semi-randomly for a location they only knew as a vague spot on a map. This is something that should be no picnic, even for higher-level characters, and I wanted to create a kind of "Monster Island" feel. (My favorite part, on that score, was when the characters left the corpse of a slain hill howler when they spotted a wyvern, attracted by the sounds of battle; the characters hid and the wyvern, more interested in food than fighting, snatched up the body of the hill howler and carried it off to eat elsewhere.)

The session ended with the characters finally reaching the dungeon they were searching for, and most of the party this close to going up a level. We'll pick up next time with a more structured scenario and more things that are directly tied to the plot.

-The Gneech

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