Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Youth DnD: Now Conducted Via Crystal Ball

Picking up from the last entry...

We've had a lot of new developments since I last stopped to document their game. The big one, of course, is that our school district extended Spring Break and is now trying to implement emergency online teaching so that everybody can maintain a soft quarantine (ahem: "social distancing") during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since I am already feeling unduly exposed by my workplace, I decided to do much the same thing for Dungeons & Dragons, and set up a Discord server. Saturday morning was our first virtual DnD session, and all things considered I think it went really well. (We had a few setup difficulties, but I was expecting that for our first session; and Discord is being hugely buggy and kind of freaking out, probably because the service is wildly overloaded. We coped by cutting out the video chat and proceeding on audio and text chat only, and it worked.)

Events since that last big update:
-The group located the wizard who had taken the book from the Lich's library.
-Her companions didn't know she still had it; they were mourning the death of their bard, who was stabbed in the alley behind the inn.
-When Toruv (dragonborn sorcerer) came out with the fact that they'd been sent to find a missing spellbook, the fighter and the paladin both turned to look at the wizard, who immediately turned invisible and tried to run away.
-The group immediately moved to close off the building, causing no small amount of consternation among the owner and patrons.
-A halfling at a nearby table pulled out a lamp and lit it, making the wizard unexpectedly visible. (This was the introduction for our newest PC, a Ghostwise Halfling Moon Druid of formidable talents.)
-The wizard's companions managed to subdue her, and our swashbuckler and the druid went upstairs to look for the book. The druid found it almost immediately and ignored its whispers; she tossed it to the swashbuckler, who immediately failed her save and decided that the book was her BFF and must be protected; she promptly threw herself out the window and led the rest of the group on a merry chase through the town, with the Druid tracking her as a dire wolf.
-They did eventually manage to locate (barely) and subdue her, and got the book under control - it turns out that its pernicious psychic influence doesn't work when someone is using Mage Hand to hold it thirty feet in the air.
-They then managed to talk their way out of getting arrested by the guards, and carried the book back to the library by wrapping it in cloth and tying it at the end of a stick.

At that point, we were ready to return to the usual dungeon -- but we had a couple of players out, and it was the first weekend of Spring Break. So I made the executive decision that the Druid had wandered out to commune with nature in the woods around the library complex, and the Barbarian was doing a bit of research in the stacks; so it was the sorcerer, the rogue, and the swashbuckler who the lich asked to deal with an infestation of imps (an impfestation, as it were) in his basement. Apparently he keeps a reading room down there, where it can be closed for researchers consulting the Special Tomes; and apparently this particular researcher has a bad habit of reading aloud under his breath when he's concentrating. The result was one dead researcher and a swarm of imps.

The trio ventured down and began exploring the basement, noting a number of rather dangerous items (all meticulously labeled) before entering a room with a wooden crate in one corner, a chest along the middle of each wall, and a torture rack against the far wall. One of them walked over and laid a hand on the torture rack, which emitted an ear-splitting shriek of horrible pain and panicked the sorcerer right out of the room. As he was coming back, the other two went to examine one of the chests... which turned out to be mimics and promptly tried to eat them.

Combat was swift and fairly one-sided; while troublesome, the two mimics really weren't strong enough to face this group. That left the chest in the corner, and of course that might be a mimic too, so... the rogue (arcane trickster) used Mage Hand to lift the crate to the ceiling and then dropped it; it immediately started bleeding, so he put a crossbow bolt through it and the sorcerer blasted it with a firebolt.

...Which was when the puddle of ichor started smoking. The half-elf swashbuckler and the halfling rogue were both caught in the smoke, and immediately developed a rash on the backs of their hands and portions of their faces. The rash turned out to be patches of scales. The dragonborn was unaffected, which was probably for the best. They immediately retreated back upstairs to consult with the lich, and discovered that the crate had been full of rare and expensive magical potions, and there was no telling what they'd been exposed to or what would happen because of it.

So the two affected characters decided to go take a long rest, while the dragonborn sorcerer decided to finish clearing out the impfestation. This proved dramatically more difficult than he expected: not only were the imps capable of turning invisible, but they were accompanied by a pair of spined devils; and not only that, but one of the imps turned out to be a spellcaster. If they'd really been trying to kill him, he probably wouldn't have survived. Instead, they spent a lot of effort trying to grapple and subdue him, and eventually wore him down to the point where he was affected by a Sleep spell and taken prisoner.

That was where today's online session picked up: the druid returned just as the rogue and swashbuckler were waking back up, and they noticed that the sorcerer was still gone. So they went back down to the basement, and found the imps in the sub-basement preparing for some sort of magical ritual. Rather than waste time searching for Toruv, who had been busy trying to escape from the room where he was trapped, they leapt straight to the attack.

Toruv had just managed to escape, and got loose just in time to hear the battle begin. The imps made good use of their invisibility, stingers, and poison; but even with the spined devils for support they were overmatched now that the whole group was there. They did some damage, but the issue was never in doubt. (If they'd managed to sacrifice Toruv and summon a Pit Fiend, on the other hand, well...) So they returned upstairs and reported their success, and the lich decided that their work essentially paid for the loss of his potions and sent them on their way.

Next time, we can pick up back at Roslof Keep and the main dungeon storyline; the group is strong enough now that they ought to be able to clear the next level fairly efficiently, and maybe even hold their own against some of the established adventuring companies. (Some of them.) So check back with us; the adventure continues!

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