GM Brian’s Campaign Analysis, Part VII

So last session, the party had gone looking for a group of mercenaries responsible for killing their defense lawyer and stealing key evidence of the Lumber Consortium’s vast corruption in the process. A massive sinkhole opened up in the swamps, and the party fell down, down, into eerie, forgotten tombs buried over a hundred feet below the acrid, black mud.

The party rested and sketched out a quick map of the tombs to discuss tactics. They had managed to clear the West side completely, but there were unopened doors to the East and South. They wisely decided that open corridors would take priority over doors, and that put them on an Eastern track. In one room, they encountered a Basidirond. This was a really cool encounter, because of the hallucinogenic effects of the spores. The party knew the plant was bad news, and wanted to just skirt around the walls of the room to get to the next passageway, but Aria spotted the skeleton of a dead adventurer in the roots of the plant, with a big, bulging backpack. She couldn’t resist.

Several party members started tripping out as Aria’s intrusion stimulated the plant to action. Rais thought he was suffocating, and one of his wolves thought there was a terrifying viper in the room. At some point, Aria believed she had shrunk to 1/10th her size and was afraid someone would stomp on her in the chaos. Nonetheless, the party defeated the basidirond, with Eydan using her sylph powers to blow away the dangerous spores.

The party also fought off some custom “swamp zombies” of mine that had distended bellies full of congealed swamp chemicals — basically a petroleum jelly akin to sterno. They were easy to defeat, especially with fire, but the results created dangerous, burning terrain. Although the party saw value in putting out the fire and salvaging some of this flammable jelly for themselves, they immediately wasted it by playing with it on a stone door – which was ineffective, to say the least.

At last, however, they came to a tall room in the tombs with walls lined with sarcophagi. At the center of the room lay the last mercenary, dying. Ghostly faces flickered into and out of existence around the room to watch the events unfold. The sight of the dead mercenary combined with the unsettling ghosts was enough to click the party out of their “dungeon grind mode.”

They ran to the dying man, and saw a bag of holding tucked in his belt that probably contained the body of the defense lawyer. But then four faceless stalkers emerged from hiding and pounced! It was a tough battle — the toughest yet for this party! And it was my favorite encounter of the entire campaign so far, because the party came together like never before. When one party member fell to dangerously low hitpoints, the whole party would reposition themselves so that the wounded could heal, safely protected by the rest of the group. It was beautifully fluid, as if they had rehearsed this tactic.

Four faceless stalkers against six level 3 adventurers… and the adventurers won. Barely. The previously malevolent spirits in the tomb ceased bothering the players immediately. One ghost woman appeared and explained they were grateful that the party had rid the tomb of the nasty creatures that had taken up residence over the years, and now the spirits could rest in peace again. As a reward, the ghost pointed out one of the sarcophagi that held nothing but treasure.

This treasure was custom-tailored for the group. Aria got two immovable rods, allowing her more use of her racial features. Abdiel got lucky gloves to make up for his INCREDIBLY terrible luck at rolling throughout seven sessions of playing. Rais got a huntsman’s shortsword. Eydan got goggles that could reveal secret doors and passageways. Elias got a Cassock of the Clergy, and Haru got a quiver that turned metallic arrows red-hot (for extra fire damage).

The party returned to Almas and handed over the dead mercenary and the recovered evidence to the Eagle Knights. They were hailed as heroes, and celebrated. They spent a week spending their hard-earned loot on various upgraded gear and such, and then hopped the next boat to Absalom, where they will spend the next three years training to be Pathfinders. This was the end of my turn GMing for the group (we rotate GMs). When next we pick up, they’ll be ready for their final test as Pathfinders, and they’ll set out once more for grand adventures!

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