How To DM – To Roll or Not To Roll

by yourdorkmaterials

We all love our shiny math rocks what go clickety clack. And rolling dice is the core mechanic of the game. But when do you let them roll?

Not often enough, and your players might feel like they’re just observers. Too much, and the game bogs down, and your players are rolling for everything no matter how trivial or impossible. How do you strike that perfect balance because, in my opinion, every unnecessary roll bogs down the game or – dice gods forbid! – potentially derails it.

So let’s talk about tips on how to roll in this week’s How To DM!

Does the Roll Make Sense?:

I realize using the term “realistic” in an epic fantasy game might be a tad ironic, but, seriously, would a frost giant ever be faced down by a halfling, like…ever? To my mind, this isn’t even an issue of disadvantage; would you be bullied by something the size of a five year old? Some things are just impossible, nat 20’s or not. And we all have had players to roll for something ludicrous because they’re counting on that 5% chance of an autosuccess. I have no problem telling the halfling he’s not going to intimidate that frost giant no matter what he rolls.

Is success/failure Really Important?:

If it important to the story, then I usually just tell them what they want to know. “You know what? You’re a trained, experienced Fighter, you would know if those wounds on the orc were made by weapons or claws.” My players have told me that these little perks associated with their class actually helps them get into character better, and it dramatically speeds up the game.

Are You Prepared to Live With the Results?:

If they roll, then you are the one at the mercy of the RNG gods. I’ve had more than one adventure wrecked by a crit.

The $#!!&%! Guidance Spell Spam:

Most spammed spell in my games. I allow it but strictly enforce the concentration rules. It’s our only defense, unless you just want to ban it.

The Help Action Spam:

Second-most spammed thing in my games. I only allow 1 other player to “help”. For Knowledge-based skills or skills requiring training/experience (like Survival), I require both characters to be proficient in the skill. I also only allow one attempt to avoid the “Well, we’ll try it too I guess” rolling.

Group Checks:

I tend to limit these under the “realism” concept…especially when it comes to Stealth rolls when half the party is clanking around in plate armor.

You Can Always Say No:

Remember: There’s no rolling until you call for a roll. This will help fight the infamous double-rolling trick where a player says quickly “I want to do x” and rolling. Then rolling again when you call for it (if they obviously failed) or complaining because now they can’t use that nat 20 they rolled.

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

Tuesday News

So, funny story: my Tuesday group wasn’t able to meet! I had three players not show for varying reasons, so my players played at a different table.

That said, I haven’t been idle.

Mimic distraction, go!

Now, I haven’t done any shading, so he’s not done. But that said, he is coming along quite well. Additionally, I have a gelatinous cube I’m working on.

The inside portion still needs some work. But it’s coming along.

Lastly, I realize that the picture of my original miniatures I made, my skeletons never did come out very well. So here is my little squad of skeletons rust covered weapons and shields.

Also, although I was working on the mimic, I have decided I’m going for it with regard to Xanathar. He’s going to be epic. I just need some metallic colored paints.

In other news, I have other miniatures I’m wanting to paint that are not D&D Minis, per se.

Man, do I wish there was an RPG for these minis. That said, I have, in addition to Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron, and Starscream. I seen another on the shelf, but I’m not too thrilled about that. I am honestly terrified of screwing up the miniatures for one of my favorite cartoons ever.

But that’s okay.

Until next time, dear readers.

Miniature Painting Highlights: What I’m Working On 11/3/2020

Here we are again for another Mini Painting Highlight, and in the U.S., Election Day (as an aside, a big shout out to my Dear Readers in China, France, Pakistan, India, Canada, the U.K., and any other place I’ve missed: Your readership is very welcome!).

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been working on, some you are aware of, some not:

First up, the infamous mimic. I did a better detail on his/her/its woodwork and began to make its eyes more orange. I also did a second coat on his tongue.

Cute, right?

Next up is one of two familiar fellows, at least if you follow the Forgotten Realms lore, Mr. Artemis Entreri himself. He has a lot of browns and blacks in his palate, so I need more paint (yay, an excuse to buy more paint!), but his cloak is coming along.

His swords were already painted back when I had a small spillage of a metal paint. It’s something I do often when these things happen.

Next up is another familiar face, the dark wizard himself: Manshoon. For those who are unaware, he was a purchase from the Dragon Heist days, in the hopes that I would run that version one day. Hopefully call me he’ll look something like this:

Right now, however, he looks like this:

I know, still a work in progress…

Lastly, but certainly not least, the infamous tiefling that it feels like I’ve been working on for decades. Like, I am seriously considering taking a break from working on him, he frustrates me so. Or not. I’ll finish him eventually.

I cleaned up some of his lines, colored his hair, and worked on his boots. I had a few extra minutes while I was working on Manson and waiting for one of his coats to dry to do some extra work on this guy. If you notice, I’m taking a very similar approach and paint scheme has the last one I painted, which incidentally came out of the same pack the last one did. I really liked the color scheme, and will be using that for the one that I was staying in my own possession.

Well, that’s it for now Dear Readers. Join me tomorrow for a recap of our Tuesday game. Considering that they are still in the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga, It is sure to be an interesting time.

Rime of the Frost Maiden: Caer Konig and Duergar

Having finished the assault on Caer Dineval, the party was rewarded with free room and board by the Town Speaker, Crannoc. The party went a step further by agreeing to police up the bodies, if for no other reason than to take all of the chardalyn amulets.

Deciding that the amulets were too much of a danger to leave out, the party collected them and went to put them in a lockbox and bury them.

At the burial site, they felt they were being watched. After stopping and looking, the party found dwarf tracks! Remembering the warning from the soothsayer about duergar, the party the party planned for something else.

Deciding that they would set a trap for the dwarves, the party lay in wait, and prepared for them.

Seeing no one, but seeing dirt moving, the bard cast faerie fire upon the figures, showing six invisible dwarves… duergar!!

The battle went quickly, the first two being felled within the first round (including surprise round), and the rest being distracted by the cleric’s thaumaturgy spell to throw his voice yelling from the opposite side of the battle.

Burying the bodies, the party took the box of chardalyn and cut a hole into the ice and placed the box in the water, and then placed the ice back on top, remembering where it was for future reference.

The party decided to have Speaker Crannoc hold onto Cora’s son until they could decide how to deal with him and take him back to his mother. In the mean time, they planned on heading towards Caer Konig.

Arriving at Caer Konig, and this time without their local guide (the monk’s player was unavailable this week), the party had to navigate things on their own. They looked at their map for the local inn and upon finding it, were greeted by a drunk silver dragonborn fumbling his way out of a snowdrift.

Speaker Trovus during one of his nightly “patrols”

Introducing himself as Speaker Trovus, I’m drunk and when you’re dealt them with the problem of thievery going on in Caer Konig: the magical lantern for which the Northern Lights Inn is named, a bag of worked pearls from Frozenfar Expeditions (an adventurer outfitting shop), and a pair of goats from the local tavern, the Hook, Line, and Sinker.

Following him into the tavern, the party got more information from the two innkeepers/owners, a pair of sisters, Allie and Cori, who advised them of a set of dwarf footprints found out by the back of her inn. The party saw the prints heading out of town towards Kelvin’s Cairn.

Also looking for information on Garret (the missing husband of the man in Targos; the reason they were in Caer Konig to begin with), the party began to believe that the two were related, seeing how all signs pointed to the Cairn, and headed to Frozenfar to see what they could dig up on Garret. The proprietor, Atenas Swift, remembered him and the adventuring company he traveled with, a goliath warrior, a lightfoot halfling, and a female tiefling. They were heading towards the Cairn for a treasure expedition.

Taking a nice rest, the party headed out the next day.

Tracking the dwarf prints were easier than before as a new set were found in town, heading towards the Cairn.

The party followed them for miles until the tracks were too worn away from the wind and snow. The ranger, however, was very good at his job and soon track down the trail, although heading away from the Cairn. These tracks were joined by an ogre’s tracks about halfway to the destination, northeast of the Cairn.

Proceeding cautiously, it wasn’t long until the party found a small fortress, dwarven by make, in the side of a hill. Being cautious and quiet worked in their favor as they made the approach without being spotted. The party got inside, where they saw the ogre, or rather an ogre zombie, sitting in a cage, which began to wail and saw them. Deciding to move quickly, the party headed to the east through a door. A duerger turned and began to yell, but not before being hit twice with two arrows, killing her.

The party entered further into the room, with the Ranger at last deciding to close the door they just went in through. Just as he closed the door he saw another duergar entering the hall that they just left, looking at the open door to the main hall that they left open. He began yelling for reinforcements to investigate.

The party lay in wait, knowing they were discovered, waiting further in, and having the half-orc cleric stand on the trap door leading to the guard tower, preventing the duergar within from coming into the room with them.

Battle was joined. The ogre zombie and three duergar, all enlarged, came down to engage with them in battle.

The battle was not difficult, but the party took their lumps, including a crit on the ranger from the lead duergar, Nildar.

The party managed to capture and interrogate the last duergar, the one in the trapdoor below, and executed him afterwards, not wanting to give him a chance to escape to his compatriots.

They discovered several bits of knowledge: the first was that Nildar was the son of Xardorok, the duergar that they were warned of; the second was that Xardorok was collecting chardalyn to create a dragon of some kind, and last, that this outpost was chosen to be a staging ground for an invasion against the dwarven mines near the Cairn.

Armed with this information, the party returned the goods and then headed back to the Cairn.

They found a base camp, with a dogsled overturned, and four dogs, cold, hungry, yet friendly, left behind. The ranger got them settled and fed, inside of a tent. They found the lead they needed and looked up the Cairn towards where Garret hopefully was still alive…

Will they find Garret? What about the adventuring party he was with? Will they stop Xardorok from his nefarious plot?

Find out next week when they head up the Cairn to see!

Until next time dear readers!

Miniature Painting Spotlight: 11/1/2020

Here we are again, with another awesome edition of our Miniature Painting Spotlight!

First up is an old 1979 (I think? May be from 80’s, but pewter is pretty worn on the bottom!) metal mini.

Last we saw him…

And here he is now! Done and done!

I am hoping to use him as one of my Red Wizards of Thay in my Tuesday game. Personally, I think he looks mensing enough to be that.

Next up is the progress on my tiefling.

As you can see, I got his belt set and pants begun. He still has quite a ways to go, but I’m not in a hurry with him. Granted, I don’t play too many tieflings, So that may be part of my lack of rush.

Next up, is a mimic I’m working on. My daughter was painting one of the mimics that came in the pack for a miniature painting contest that we went to this last Wednesday. It was an awesome time. I’ll showcase what I painted for that in a bit. But now, the work on the chest mimic!

Yes, still at work in progress but I’m happy with how he’s coming along. I just need a darker brown to dry brush over the lighter brown. Oh well. One day.

Lastly, we have my entry for the miniature painting contest. I actually didn’t enter anything into the contest, and was just there painting a miniature as I was one of the judges. The manager of my local game store was the one who set up the contest and I was happy to help. Frankly, I wish we had had a little bit more of a turnout, but the turnout we had was good quality. Big shout out to Matt for his winning entry!

That said, here’s my night hag:

I am very happy with how she turned out. As a green hag, I put glistening blood paint on her hands as if she just got done taking out a party of adventurers.

Well, that’s all I have this week. Join us next time to see the progress I’m making on the rest of my miniatures!

Until next time, dear readers!

DM Story: The Day the Barbarian Lost His Head and Other Fun Stories

This story takes place some 15ish years ago. It is also a collection of stories from the same campaign adventure. Enjoy!

I was running City of the Spider Queen for my game group, the one that I’d been running for since back in the 2nd Edition days.

Do you all know those games where everything is going well and people are taking the game seriously and everyone’s having a good time? You know those same times where somebody says something funny and it turns into a total comedy hour? Yeah, that’s what happened here.

Story 1:

So the party is lacking in the ability to get things appraised, and the Cleric decides to use an ability she has to cast a select arcane spell to cast find familiar.

She gets: a celestial hedgehog that happens to have a fairly high appraisal skill. The problem is, under rules for familiars and speaking with animals, animals tend to appraise things from their point of view. That means that human appraisal values don’t really mean much to them. When asked to appraise a valuable piece of artwork, I decided that the hedgehog would appraise things based on its value in barrels of nuts.

I thought it was clever. My player thought it was hilarious.

Story 2:

We had a new player join us, can’t remember who he was other than a mutual friend of some of the other players. He decides that he wants to play, but he wants to play a barbarian because he thought Conan was cool. Okay, fine. When asked to engage, he did what he thought a barbarian was supposed to do, which was run right out in front of everyone. In a normal combat situation, that wouldn’t be a terrible idea. The problem was, he played his character like he was an idiot. Although he was not an idiot. Therefore, his character died. A lot. His character died so often, and was brought back by the party so often, that I decided that his god, Tempus, the Lord of Battle, gave him a “Frequent Die-ers Card” which granted every 10th death a free resurrection spell. This got a good laugh from the party, for obvious reasons.

His 10th death? The party saw a balor guarding the entrance to a cave that they needed to go into. For those that are unaware, these particular demons carry a very large great sword that has the ability to cut the head off of anyone that it crits on. The party began formulating a plan to take on the creature when the barbarian’s player tells me he just charges the balor. I look at him. I look at the party. I look back at him.

“Okay. He gets an opportunity attack against you. Also, since you are charging, you get a +2 to attack and a -2 to AC.” (Remember: 3rd Edition)

“That’s fine. I can waste him.”

The party proceeds to groan. I tell them I am rolling in the open for this one. The balor threatens a crit on a 19-20. The barbarian’s AC? 18. The balor’s bonus to hit stuff? +19. Therefore, according to 3rd Edition rules, If my first roll to hit him is a 19 or 20, as long as I don’t roll a 1 on a subsequent roll to confirm the critical, I automatically lob off his head. This is why the party is groaning.

I roll onto the table. It comes up: a NATURAL 20. People, I can’t make this up. I roll the second roll. 19. I describe as the barbarian screams a death cry, charging up to the balor. I also then describe the Baylor casually turning and flicking his sword at the barbarian whose head lops off and rolls back towards the party. Combat ensues.

Story 3:

The party has just finished defeating a Hydra. One of the players, a wizard I believe, knows that parts of a Hydra are good for certain spell components. Therefore, the wizard starts digging into the Hydra for parts. One of the player’s character is very engrossed in the new magic items they had found. He fails his spot check to see the wizard preparing to prank him.

The real world, the player who is getting pranked has his nose in a book trying to look up the properties of a new magic item he acquired and wasn’t really paying attention.

After the wizard makes a crack about swimming in the hydra’s innards being like “warm spaghetti” (becoming a long-time running gag), he pops up over the side of the Hydra wearing its dead head on his own, rolling high to make a convincing hydra roar.

I ask the player who’s nose had been in a book to make another spot check. He looks up at me and rolls.

“Uhhh…what am I rolling for? I’m by the Hydra body, right?”

“You’ll see. Just roll.”

He rolls and gets a rather low roll. I describe how he sees movement out of the corner of his eye. He turns and looks and sees a hydra head coming over the edge of the body. I asked him what he does. He launches a dagger. A magical dagger. The wizard gets hit. Hilarity ensues, with the new phrase “Hey look guys, I’m a hydra!” entering our vernacular for years to come.

This was a great campaign, as I remember it, and I’m sad to say that I haven’t spoken to those guys in over a decade. And so it goes, I guess.

Well, I hope you enjoyed these DM stories! Until next time, dear readers!

How To DM: Fighting on the Fly

This week’s How-To post is by my good friend yourdorkmaterials

So. You’ve meticulously planned your big boss fight, carefully balanced your CR’s and come up with cool, integral roles tailored beautifully for each player. It’s going to be epic! Aaaaannnd…two players can’t show. Or the wizard goes down early. Or what was supposed to be a running battle turns into a stubborn slug-fest to the death. 

We’ve all had this happen, and – for me – it’s one of the most challenging aspects of DMing to deal with. 

So let’s talk about tips on how to adjust our combat encounters on the fly in this week’s How To DM!

Manage the Damage: I use the average damage provided in the stat blocks for big fights. It dramatically speeds up combat and lets me manage how much damage I’m putting out each round (especially critical hit damage.)

Build a Weak Wave: Build a wave of weaker enemies to shave off some of those Moon Druid/Bear Barbarian hit points. Those players tend to be overly confident (for good reason) and tend to be less worried about combat initially. I might plan on a weak wave reducing their HP by 30%. Once they reach that total, you can always have them “fail a morale check” and retreat. Need some more damage? Bring them in as reinforcements or have them rally.

PCs Don’t Have to Know the Roll: I roll everything openly at my table. I always hated it when I figured out the DM was letting up to save us. They don’t have to know what those extra rolls are for; and they make players more nervous as the combat wears on. For example, if they’re fighting something that has a chance to give them a disease, I make those saves for them without telling them specifically what they’re for. Players tend to get really nervous, really quick when they’re making “mystery saves”. I find it makes them invest more in the fight.

Take ‘Em Alive: Let enemies grapple. If you’re using optional combat rules from the DMD (which I do), let your enemies trip them, shove them prone, or disarm them. This gives you “attacks” to use that don’t necessarily cause damage. I always bring this up in Session 0 and ultimately allow the players to decide which optional rules they want to include, but – anything they can do, their enemies can do!

Give Them Their Clues: If your Big Bad Evils fly, maybe foreshadow that a bit. One time, I had a flying enemy swoop in, fail a grapple check, and fly off before the player really knew what was happening. He was more than a little freaked out. If they need to use fire to stop the enemy from regenerating, find a way to give subtle hints about that weakness (and then make sure they have a way of using that information in case the wizards/sorcerers are down or absent).

What tips, tricks and advice do you folks have? Put them in the comments below, so we can all share in the info. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next week for another installment on How To DM!

The Haunt 2 (Part 2)

DISCLAIMER: LIKE THE PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT WARNED, THIS ADVENTURE IS GRAPHIC AND CONTAINS POSSIBLE TRIGGERS.

YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!!

The party engaged the Oblex, for that is what it was that took the form of an Astral Deva, with it temporarily stealing the memories of the spicy cleric!

After a short battle, the Oblex lay defeated and the party stood, victorious. It was then they decided to take a short rest. That was, until…

The Evil Doll was heard running to and fro in the hallway, seen at the last minute by Iul, the party wizard, as it ran across the ceiling in the hall!

After a short fight, with the Doll escaping, the party rested. Seeing a double door exiting the room to the south, the party declined heading back into the hallway, and elected the south exit.

Opening the door, Iul was presented with an evil aura of negative energy and 6 human-sized maggots of a fiendish nature. The gnome mage quickly shut the door with an audible “Nope.”

Opening the door after a better attack plan, Iul cast a fire-based line spell, hitting three of the creatures, killing them instantly.

Quickly, the blood hunter and monk entered, attacking the last three and being affected by some sort of energy emanating from that section of the hall.

The battle won, the party entered the hall, finding yet another one of the infamous drawings. This one was of the mother being found dead in a tub of water, her wrists cut.

There remained one door. THE door. The one with one of the nurse-creatures, and 14 of the demonic aberrant creatures seen from above before.

The paladin/blackguard rushed in, using a frightening aura ability, causing the room (except for the nurse-like creature) to become frightened, preventing their advancement. The “nurse” attacked, putting up a decent fight, but falling under the onslaught of the paladin’s withering two-handed sword attacks.

After a fireball from Iul, the room was cleared. Inside, the party found the 5th of the drawings, with the accompanying vision.

This time, it was of little Carol Anne, hooked up to various tools and whose consciousness was being placed in, you guessed it, the Evil Doll, killing her in the process.

This would be the end, except the ground began shaking and the building and rooms seem to be reconstituting themselves! The party resolved to quickly exit the building.

Trying to head upstairs, the party reached the stairs only to have them turn into a slick ramp, slick with ectoplasm and blood. It was a hard climb, but with Loris the Artificer’s rope of climbing the physically frail party members were able to overcome the ramp.

Getting to the top, the party realized that the ground floor of the hospital had totally reconstituted to its original form. They attempted to leave, only to find the windows and doors unable to be opened. Then they heard a howl and a scream:

What should appear, but the bloody little brother of the Evil Doll/Carol Anne. The battle was coming to a head when the Evil Doll screeched and launched herself at the party, stabbing and dodging and shadow stepping all over the room.

The cleric/warlock, getting an idea, pulled out the drawings she’d been collecting, and fumbled, sending them all over the room. Between the magic missiles from Iul, and fire bolts from the artificer, the drawings were destroyed sending the Evil Doll into a rage and causing her to retreat.

Wasting no more time, the party beat feet out of the building only to watch it crumble.

Silence fell.

Until…

SHE RETURNED!!! Bursting from the rubble, the Evil Doll launched herself once again at the party!

She screamed at the party: “YOU RUINED EVERYTHING! YOU RUINED MY DRAWINGS! So… NOW YOU DIE!”

The fight was hard fought, but the party was victorious, the monk landing the final blow, and the Evil Doll falling, seemingly once and for all, unmoving.

The party was then greeted with the following ending:

As the dawn begins to lighten the early morning sky, the stormy rain squalls cease. The Evil Doll lays on the sodden ground, unmoving. As the first rays of sunlight hit the empty shell of a body, the porcelain skin, ragged hair, and blood stained dress begin to wither and blacken to flecks of charcoal. A moment passes and the Evil Doll quickly break into a small pile of ash that washes away
into the morning puddles. The day is new, and the goodness of light somehow returns to this once forsaken place. You know that this may not last long, however, but for now the world is a better
place.

Thanks for your reading and until next time, dear readers!

Miniature Painting Spotlight: Finally!

So, dear readers, I finally got some painting done. Of course, some of that painting was done today, thus my late post.

This isn’t going to be a long post, but it will have some cool things I’ve been working on.

First, another dear restoration project.

Finally done!

Next is a Wizard of Thay that I am working on for my Tuesday game (Shhhh… don’t tell them!)

Note that both of these miniatures are, in fact, metal and end up looking a tad different than the plastic or resin miniatures.

Speaking of, here’s the tiefling that I’ve been working on.

As you can see, I have the coat pretty much done. I wanted to the inside of his lapels a different color, gold or copper. Not sure yet.

Next week I will be featuring a couple of miniatures painted by a friend of mine. I don’t make any claims about being an expert painter, although I take pride in my work and think I do a fairly good job. After all, I have had a few people have me do commissions for them. But this guy? This guy makes my work look like garbage! Not going to lie, I’m kind of jealous and have asked him to teach me his ways. Once I have learned them, I will, in turn, teach you all that I have. Sharing is caring and all that.

Until next time, dear readers, keep painting and keep playing!

Feel free to link a picture of your miniature that you’ve been working on in the comments!

Sunday Highlights: Assault on Caer Dineval

It just came to my attention that I mis-scheduled this post today, so it’s late. That said, here it is:

We last left our intrepid band of heroes in Targos, having just disposed of Sephek and Torga, had headed off to Bryn Shander to sell loot and gear up for their next task: going to Caer Dineval to check up on Cora the innkeeper’s (The Buried Treasure in Bremen) son, on their way up to Kelvin’s Cairn to rescue the husband (Garret) of the scrimshander (Keegan) in Targos.

The party arrived in Caer Dineval, not sure where to begin. Deciding that, since the inn had been out of business for the better part of two years, that the Uphill Climb Tavern would be their best bet.

The innkeeper, named Roark, told them that he had no rooms to let, but that they may be able to get lodging up at the Caer (the keep) further up the road in town.

After a short discussion, the party headed up the road.

The uninviting and squat keep stood further up on the hill, overlooking the bay. Walking up to the portcullis, they heard a shout from above asking their business. When the party stated their wish to see the Speaker, they were turned away, saying that he was too ill to be seen. When they said that they had a healer with them, the inhabitants balked, yelling about “heathen remedies.”

Deciding that something was definitely amiss, the party pretended to leave and walked around the east side of the keep, and with the Monk’s shape water ability, they walked up a set of snowy stairs to the battlements above. Seeing nobody in the courtyard, and a tower to their immediate north and south, they decided to enter into the south tower, where they were attacked by barely-competent men and women wearing robes and wielding scimitars and wearing a strange crystal around their necks!

The battle raged, and were soon joined by similarly dressed people coming from the north tower, and then from the stairs in the south tower, as well as the south west tower, and an additional force of two spellcasters from the northwest towers (the party holding the line in and by the southeast tower), with the fallen turning to solid ice statues. After a relatively easy battle between the groups, the party stood, triumphant, with a captured prisoner: Huarwar, the wayward son of Cora the innkeeper. Binding and gagging him, the party knocked him unconscious and left him in a pile of boxes to be retrieved later on.

Entering into the courtyard, the party made a plan to enter the main keep, which they did in short order, meeting a young servant girl, who seemed reluctant to help for fear of someone by the name of Kadroth and Avarice, both tieflings, with Avarice being albino. They asked her to point the way to Kadroth, which she did, and point out where the speaker was being held.

The party went first to Kadroth’s office, running into another of the robed men, whom they dispatched with no difficulty (and who also turned into an ice statue), but not before he alerted Kadroth of their presence. Kadroth came out of his appropriated office, only to be seen wearing the infamous necklace, and was cut down. Kadroth, curiously, did not turn into a statue, although he wore the same crystal.

Kadroth

Heading up to the room where the Speaker was being held, they burst into the room to find the Speaker on the chamber pot, and his jailer standing watch over the room. The party eliminated the guard, and let the Speaker finish his…business…before asking him about his captors. Finding out that the cult members (for that was what they were) were of Levistus, one of the Dukes of the Nine Hells, and were holding several of his servants hostage down in the cistern. Additionally, they heard of a n old soothsayer inside that may also be part of the cult.

Finding out this, the party headed downstairs and into the trap door into the cistern. Not finding much, they found a small alcove where they found a shrine to Levistus. Heading to an adjacent room, the party found an albino tiefling studying over some books, who told them simply, without looking up “Get out. Now.”

The party ignored her and engaged her in conversation. Apparently glad to have Kadroth eliminated, she attempted to make a deal with the party to help her find the Lost Netherese City of Ythryn in exchange for a share of the treasure found there. The party declined, asking her what reason they shouldn’t kill her and just take everything they find, where she turned around holding a staff of frost aimed at them.

Both sides, deciding to cut their losses, the party made her give her word that she would not return to Caer Dineval, although she refused to agree to leaving Ten Towns. The party allowed her to leave, having no more use of Caer Dineval with her cult-members having been decimated.

After rescuing the cold and hungry servants, the party went off to find the soothsayer, who greeted them, knowing her own life was coming to an end, knowing her fate in the Nine Hells, and yet wanting another group to succeed. She spoke of one named Xardorok Sunblight, a duergar warlord, who was preparing some sort of terrible fate for the people of Ten Towns. After giving them the information, she died, and that of old age.

The Cult Soothsayer

Not knowing what she was talking about, the party informed the Speaker of the success of their winning his freedom, and prepared to leave.