Some pretty big changes in the Post Tenebras Lux game. I’ve held off on writing about them until things sorted themselves out.
First off, two players decided, for various reasons, to leave the game. We’ll miss them, but thanks for playing with us as long as you did, Michael and Dillip.
This left us with only four players, and one who was waffling about whether he wanted to continue. Four was the bare minimum I wanted to run with, and it would have made for less redundancy in players to support our absentee player policy*.Â It was also somewhat discouraging for me, as I was trying to break free of the dungeon-crawl, combat-oriented aesthetic of the Scales of War adventure path that had soured on us, but hadn’t had much of a chance to do so, yet.
So, it looked for a while like the game would fold. Then I suggested we try and recruit some replacement players.
Way back when this started, I had started the game with eight players. Two dropped because of group size. I asked them if they were interested in rejoining the game, and they said yes. So, in a flurry of activity, we whipped up two new, 3rd-level characters, complete with backstories, and worked them into the game.
This solution was enough to pull the player who was thinking about leaving back into the game, though he decided that he wouldn’t continue with his current character, but play the cleric of one of the departing players, instead**. So now the group is:
- Torrin, dragonborn paladin of Pelor
- Akmenos, tiefling rogue
- Sergheia Jackalope, half-elf ranger
- Arcos Strand, human cleric of Erathis
- Ruingast, eladrin avenger of the Raven Queen and multiclass shaman
- Kara, half-elf dragon sorcerer
One defender, one leader, four strikers. Kara and Ruingast can, in a pinch, pull double-duty as defenders pretty well, and Kara has some good strong controller options, so the balance is not as skewed as it might look on paper. Still, their focus is on pumping out the damage, as opposed to sucking it up or mitigating it.
All that done, I worked up a little scene where the two characters depart and the other two join. I also noticed, while helping the new players create their characters, that the four characters who had been playing all along were rather woefully short in the treasure department compared to the new arrivals, so I worked in a distribution of magic items as gifts from a group of patrons to help bring things up to par.
Now I was ready for the actual adventure to start.
After wandering out into the Witchwood looking for the mysterious barrow that appears only under the full moon and getting spanked by an owlbear, some fey panthers, gnomes, and a pseudodragon, the party limped back to Witchcross trying to figure out how the townsfolk managed to gather firewood without an armed guard. Back in the inn, we ran the scene where the two characters leave and the other two join, and the Santa Clause scene where the four original characters got their goodies.
And that’s when they met Adrianna the Young, who was not pleased that they had run out into the wood and started slaughtering everyone they found***.Â After a rocky start, they got her calmed down, apologized, and persuaded her to give them her blessing to seek out the barrow, which she called the Winter Castle, to make sure it hadn’t fallen to corruption and evil, the way Rivenroar Castle had****. She even gave them what little information she had about the site: that it was warded by a magical maze of cold.
Next morning, the party bought some potions of resist cold and some heavy clothing, then headed out into the wood. Careful progress led them to Rest-by-Water, where they waited for the moon to rise in order to make finding the Winter Castle easier. The peaceful forest spirits of the place made them welcome, and made resting their quite beneficial*****. As they were leaving, they spotted a unicorn running off through the trees away from the path to their objective, and decided to follow it, in case it was leading them somewhere important.
It wasn’t but it did lead them somewhere interesting: the Stone Door. They spent a little more time examining the site and learning how it worked, then got back on the trail. The sun was setting by that time, and it was full dark when they were jumped by the single combat we had in the session.
They spotted the stirges in time to avoid a surprise round, but didn’t see the vine horror hiding in the underbrush******. I rolled crazy high for the monsters’ initiative (27 for the vine horror, 26 for the stirges), so the fight pretty much started with a surprise round, anyway. When the first character came up in the rotation, all but one of them were restrained and taking ongoing 10 damage, and about half of them had a blood-draining stirge attached to them, doing another ongoing 5. Still, they pulled through, though the cleric dropped at one point. Stacked ongoing damage is nasty.
So, that’s where we left it. Everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves – including me – and I think we’re all feeling much more positive about Post Tenebras Lux continuing.
*Basically, I run if more than half the players are going to be there, and missing players have their characters played by one of the present players. Wtih six players, we can run with as few as many as two players not making it to the game. Fewer players means fewer people can miss the game and the game still take place.
**He and the other departing character had worked up a pretty in-depth backstory for their two characters, and one leaving and one staying didn’t make much sense within the group dynamic that had developed. Also, he didn’t want the group to lose the healing capabilities of the cleric.
***Her view of the situation, not what actually happened.
****A mix of skill challenge and roleplaying. I awarded success and failures based both on rolls, when I felt they were called for, and on specific things said and done by the characters.
*****Resting there for more than an hour granted them each an extra action point. Originally, I had planned to make resting there replenish a number of healing surges, but they were all unwounded, so I decided on the action point instead.
******Seven stirges and a vine horror, 900 xp, a level 3 encounter for 6 characters.