Zeitgeist: The Dying Skyseer - Session 04
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 April 2016, 3:20 am
In the previous session had planned an expedition to the haunted top of Cauldron Hill at the request of the dying skyseer Nevard Sechim. Mayor Reed Macbannin, the guardian of Cauldron Hill, had equipped them with amulets against dark magic, and kegs full of goat's blood to draw a circle around their camp. The idea was to have the spirits of Cauldron Hill follow that blood trail endlessly and hopefully ignore the group.

In this session the group reached the top of Cauldron Hill and set up camp. They heated stones to have a flameless source of heat, and built some cover against the wind. That was all very helpful when the temperature dropped sharply at nightfall. But with nightfall also came the spirits that haunted Cauldron Hill, a motley crew including a legless man, a hag, a serpent-maned lion, and an insubstantial phantom.

The group had previously undergone a ritual that shared their life force with Nevard, and as a consequence they were linked to him in a way that allowed them to share his visions of that night. At first they had a vision of Nilasa, the girl whose death had kicked off this adventure, appearing to warn them that the man who had killed her was coming. She described the man as being scarred so much that he was now wearing many faces as disguise. In a second vision they foresaw the factory of Heward Sechim, Nevard's nephew, burning down in the early hours of the next day.

Before they could decide on a further course of action, a dark figure matching the description of the person who had shot Nilasa appeared outside the camp and threw a grenade at the group. While the grenade did little damage, it did contain brightly burning magnesium. The combination of the noise of the explosion and the bright light completely shattered the plan to remain undetected by the spirits, and so the spirits now all attacked the group.

This was designed to be a hard fight, and so it turned out to be. There was a bunch of minor spirits, minions, that just had an aura doing small amounts of damage. The legless man had a powerful attack that grabbed Aria the sorceress, but she was able to push him away. The hag had an attack that could dominate a player character, but fortunately people were lucky with saving throws and the dominations all just lasted one turn. The paladin tanked the serpent-maned lion, who had poisonous attacks.

That left the insubstantial phantom, mostly ignored by the group, which turned out to be the problem. The phantom always touched the character closest to him, leaving a mark and a small amount of automatic damage. Having one mark enabled a character to see the phantom even when it phased out for the others. A second mark enabled a character to do half damage to the phantom. At three or more marks the phantom was fully solid for that character, visibly wielding a big scythe, and taking full damage from that character's attacks.

It is one of the strengths of 4th edition to have the tools to create more complicated monsters with multiple powers that result in events more complex than a simple exchange of blows. Players can use knowledge skills to find out about those powers in order not to be surprised by them, but in the heat of the battle people often forget about that. And so it came that Eldion the invoker misjudged the danger of the phantom. Being not too worried about the small automatic damage round after round, the invoker basically "tanked" the phantom and chose not to move away. What he didn't realize was that the phantom had another attack which required three marks on the victim. And that attack, due to being so complicated to set up, dealt really substantial damage (5d12). So after dealing 5 damage per turn for three turns, the phantom hit Eldion for 27 points of damage with a scythe attack. That not only completely surprised him, but knocked him unconscious and even would have killed him if he hadn't had a 5 point resistance to necrotic damage. And that made the player extremely angry, claiming that this strong attack was "unfair" and threatening that he would quit the game if I killed his character.

Meanwhile the group had dealt with most of the other spirits, and by tanking the phantom with somebody who had high armor and hit points was able to defeat that one too. But with the player so angry, and me not being happy about his "meta-game blackmail the DM to survive" attempt, we ended the session on an unhappy note.
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