Expedition to Castle Ravenloft in the 13th Age: Session 8

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

Beaten down by the ambush, our heroes take a night to recover before facing the thing that lairs beneath the monastery ruins.

Our characters are are:
Ember, the human fighter–played by Bryant (@gamercow)
Kenthis, the human sorcerer–played by John
Raghnar, the human fighter–played by Aaron (@wolfsamurai)

Due to illnesses, we missed our usual date and rescheduled for the weekend. For whatever reason, we took much longer than usual recalling where we left off. If you want to skip that meandering, them start about 15 minutes in.

The first challenge of the evening was purging the varguoille poison. I followed a similar procedure to playing out magical rituals, which is to say, I let the player’s decide what actions that they could reasonably take to make a cure. I had set the DC to defeat the poison at 20. It was only meant to be a real threat during combat.

I expected that the party should be able to remove it easily outside of combat. I was prepared for two “failure” outcomes. If the check was close, the cure would make the PC sick too. They would lose a recovery but be cured of the poison (Aaron anticipated me here with his latrine digging). Failure by a larger margin could result in a more sever temporary setback (but still a cure) or require a rare ingredient that would be conveniently located near one of the side-quests of the game. I’m almost disappointed that it didn’t come to either of these options.

I think the last combat made the party more cautious. A lot of attention was paid to the overnight camp and the exploration of the ruins.

I only felt a little bad about what happened to Kenthis’ mouse. Very, very little..

And then they fought Baba Zelena!

Baba Zelenna

Large 8th Level Troop [Humanoid]
Init +11

Claws +13 vs. AC—50 damage and weakened (normal save 11+ ends).
Gather Power—Standard Action. The next spell Baba Zelanna casts deals critical damage. Also, roll 1d6 and:
1-2: Thunder Wave. Pop free of all engaged creatures.
3-4: Blur. +2 to AC and PD for 1 round.
5: Energy Dampening Aura. For one round, Zelanna may supress one ongoing magical effect or the first spell cast by an enemy is cast as one level lower than it is.
6: Power Siphon. The closest enemy spellcaster makes an easy save (5+) or loses one prepared spell.
Summon Imps—Spell. 1d3 enemies close to the portal are assaulted by a swarm of imps from hell. Ongoing 15 damage. DC 20 check to ditch them.
Chain Lightning +13 vs PD—Spell. One nearby enemy takes 50 damage.
Natural Even Hit: Make a free attack against another enemy close to the previous target. You may not target the same creature twice on the same turn.

HP 290; AC 24; PD 18; MD 22

Ring of Invisibility: Once per battle, Baba Zelenna may become invisible, per the wizard spell (5th level, pg 156)
Recharge: The ring recharges when Baba Zelenna is staggered.
Spell Frenzy: When attacking with a spell, Baba Zelenna rolls 2d20 and takes the better result. For each die that would result in a miss, Zelenna takes damage equal to twice the level of that attack’s target.

Baba Zelenna is a mini-boss for the champion level and the party only just hit the tier. That alone isn’t what made the fight so hard. I made a few bad assumptions in the monster design.

First off, I tend to round off monster damage and often, I’m rounding up to a number divisible by 5. I’m beginning to suspect that I should stick closer to the baseline damage for a level unless I have a really good reason.

Secondly, there’s a lesson that I should have learned during the shakedown adventure. PC damage is not equivalent to monster damage. Consequently, throwing in a PC mechanic such as Gather Power and have it work the exact same way as it does for players is a really bad idea. There’s nothing wrong with the imagery of the action or the random effect but double damage on a larger creature, which already deals double damage, was overkill.

I was really like how the swarm of imps played out. I should have led with that since Zelenna was acting alone. I totally forgot about Spell Fury. Everyone hits pretty easy in this game, so I want to rewrite it to do something different too.

With more players, Baba Zelenna,gains demonic bodyguards, Babau!

Babau

7th Level Wrecker [Demon]
Init +15

Ragged Claws +12 vs AC—20 damage and 10 ongoing acid damage (11+ save ends).
Natural Even Hit: Pull the target close for a needle-toothed bit. Deal an additional 10 damage and the target may not disengage or pop free on its next turn.
Natural Odd Hit: Target is affected by the babaus’ protective slime.
Summon Darkness +12 vs MD—Blind a nearby target (11+ save ends).
Limited Use: Once per battle. Recharges once if staggered.

HP 108; AC 23; PD 17; MD 21

Protective Slime: The babau exudes an acidic red slime that splashes onto creatures it is engaged with when it is hit by a weapon attack. Engaged creatures make an easy save (6+) or become vulnerable to attacks until their next short rest as the acid eats into their armor.
Summon Babau: One per day, if the escalation die is 4+, a Babau may summon another of it’s kind. The summoned Babau has 75 HP, is weakened, and cannot summon other Babau.
Dimension Door: Once per day, a Babau may teleport to a nearby location.

My offline group is fighting a pair of Babau right now. I’m not sure what about it needs tweaking yet. I’m curious to see what the reaction will be when they summon help!

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~ by Hunter Rose on September 25, 2014.

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