Expedition to Castle Ravenloft in the 13th Age: Session 7

This is an #ActualPlay broadcast of Expedition to Castle #Ravenloft using the #13thAge RPG.

After some fruitful downtime assessing the local situation, our heroes visit Madam Eva to get the lowdown on the Icon, the Sunsword, and to get Kenthis de-stenched.

With a few solid leads under their belt, they set out to Lysagia Hill…

Our characters are are:
Ember, the human fighter–played by Bryant (@gamercow)
Kenthis, the human sorcerer–played by John
Heinrich, the human cleric–played by Pierce (@sorcerer blob)

I felt bad at first, just listing the obvious plot hooks that my players had encountered, but it appears that they are more focused when offered a choice. I regret nothing!

As the players guessed, I’m setting Matthews up to be a rival love interest for Ireena. Since they seem amused, you can expect more on that in another session, probably when it is least convenient.

Getting Kenthis de-stenched was a *very* good idea. I had plans to really step up encounters outside of the village. I had expected them to try a ritual themselves. I wasn’t going to give up the opportunity to give Madam Eva power over them, however. I already know how I wan to play that card, though the time to do so it still far off.

The card reading is a classic Ravenloft element. It randomly determines the locations that the player must visit in order to achieve objectives in the game. I had “read” the cards in advance so as to save space at the bench where I run the game from. That saved tie and allowed me more space to narrate the scene.

I was, perhaps, overly generous in regards to Madam Eva’s initial attitude to the party, but I’m going to make that play into the Matthews/Ireena relationship and I think this will pay of when other elements are revealed down the line.

(If I’m talking a lot about my roleplaying, it’s because I didn’t feel like I sucked so badly this time. I’m often unsatisfied with my DMing in that regard).

The encounter with Kavan and the vargouille was semi-planned. I didn’t know when, exactly, that I was going to spring that on them. If it wasn’t obvious, I hadn’t balanced the encounter in advance. Upgrading monsters is really as quick and easy as it looks in the video, but I didn’t have the experience with the system to do that well on the fly. Or, rather, the nature of the vargouille’s attacks are nastier than straight damage and increas their effectiveness beyond what the numbers suggest.

Here’s the original stat-block:

Vargouille

3rd Level Spoiler (mook) [Aberration/Outsider]
Init +8

Jagged Bite +5 vs. AC—3 damage and poison. This damage cannot be healed normally until the poison is cured (standard difficulty).
Critical Hit: The target also turns into a varigouille (see Kiss, below).
C: Fearsome Shriek +5 vs. MD—Up to 3 nearby creatures are stunned until the start of their next turn.
Limited Use: 1/battle as a free action.
(Note: Fear attacks only work on creatures with 1/3 or fewer of their maximum hit points).

HP 5; AC 16; PD 16; MD 8

Kiss: A target infected by a vargouille turns into a vargouille within a day unless the poison is defeated (hard difficulty). When the target uses a recovery, its hair falls out. After the first quick rest, the target’s ears grow long and leathery. Its chin sprouts tentacles. After 8 hours or after the next full heal-up, the transformation completes and the victim’s head flies off his shoulders to join the pack.

I really didn’t want to throw another horde at the players after the zombie-fest in the village, so I upped the level to 5 or 6 and reduced their number. I’m thinking now that I should have had made them normal monsters of an equal level and only thrown 4 or 5 at them.

I also totally forgot that their Shriek was a fear ability. I think that I will change it a free action when a PC is staggered, which works better in the fiction and pacing of the battle.

The poison preventing natural healing should probably not work quite so often. Maybe the a poisoned PC should make a saving throw and only heal 1/2 their recovery roll if they fail. A cumulative vulnerability to the Kiss is another options. After 2-3 bites, you are in serious trouble! That may make an excellent nastier special.

Kavan, the cleric-ender, will be back. He was sent to test the heroes and since I don’t expect them to give up, he will be back. I don’t think that I used him when I first ran the game. He’s clearly out of the player’s league when he hides in the shadows like that. I wonder if he’ll be so tough when they draw him into the open!

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~ by Hunter Rose on September 4, 2014.

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