Game Prep: Banestorm, 3×02

Session two is Saturday and we’re going to finally get into the adventure proper. The battle that basically stretched out for the entire night last week was originally intended to just be half the session, but that’s fine. Everything’s fine. We’re all fine here. How’re you?

Anyway, I’d initially thought to start with the teleporting trio and Gestlin, but have rethought that and am instead going to begin with the two PCs who weren’t involved at all last week, Brum & Thorn. This will basically allow me to set up the status quo.

  • It’s been a couple of days since the conclusion of the previous run. Thorn has been searching the wreckage for signs of Finn while simultaneously doing an elven mourning ritual for his other friend (whose body he did see), Arn. Brum has been doing … I’m not sure what, actually.
  • Zistral is no longer an active character as the player retired from the group for reasons I still don’t entirely understand, so I’m NPCing him. He’s finally clued in on the fact that the Fa’iel don’t like him because he’s a centaur and has been dealing with the surviving “Leashed One” (think damane from Wheel of Time) centaur having latched onto him.
  • Lan Fan is also no longer an active character … not that she really was one in the first place. She’s basically been hanging out with Ammerah and the other women of the tribe.
  • So after we establish the current status quo, that’s when a brilliant flash happens near Lan Fan. When it fades, Aramis, Haruki and Ismir are there but Lan Fan is gone – Gestlin basically “castled” her and Haruki, so she’s now in Defiant. As to Gestlin, he appear momentarily, then begins screaming in pain before he turns into … a goat. Sure, it can talk, but its still a goat. That is floating several inches off the ground due to that ring he squared away. Gestlin is horrified by this and wants to get it undone, but he can’t use Smil-Blam properly.
  • I need to figure out what happens if someone is foolish enough to try and use Smil-Blam … ideally, I want someone to pick the rod up … hmm. I’d originally intended on having Janek el-Zaid be dead, but what if he tries to use the rod to transform Gestlin … and it totally backfires on him (because Smil-Blam is at least partially sentient as I understand it)? Oh, I like this because it lets the PCs actually see the threat … but what does it actually do to him? Killing him is right out because that would result in Thorn never making the attempt to transform Gestlin back. Hmm … age reversal? So the Janek sort of de-ages to a teenager in front of everyone and stays that way? Yeah. Let’s go with that.
  • Anyway, information will be exchanged – Thorn may be surprised to discover that Goatlin (heh) speaks fluent Arabic – and it will be determined that seeking out Zat al-Dawahi is the next step. Unfortunately, that’s many, many days away and Rashid needs to get the rest of the Fa’iel as far away from this wretched city as possible. As his father was recently murdered by the yuan-ti, he’s now in charge.
  • Something interesting also came up: Aramis has an Enemy at 9 or less who turns out to be the yuan-ti he half-blinded during the previous run at the battle market. I rolled … and this Enemy came up. Easiest solution is obvious: there were a crapton of yuan-ti in the city before the banestorm tore it apart, so this Enemy is one of the survivors. However, if the yuan-ti is stupid enough to charge out and attack Aramis, he’s going to get cut down by the Fa’iel before he gets close enough to do anything … so I need to figure out the next step there. Notably, Aramis also has that ring which is his “destiny item” – we determined that, when worn, it provides Danger Sense, and he can ‘activate’ 360 degree vision for 2d rounds with a Ready maneuver, so I can use this as a way to start that rolling with him abruptly sensing that he (personally) is in danger. Then, a crossbow bolt comes streaking at him, but he can react appropriately (dodge most likely.) Rashid will send some of his Fa’iel after the shooter, but will reveal there are yuan-ti survivors in the city ruins and they’ve been an issue. This is another reason he wants to get the Fa’iel clear. Multiple character(s) may be able to recognize that Aramis was explicitly the target here and I can have the yuan-ti be a recurring Gollum for them.
  • Ammerah decides that she she is going to Zat al-Dawahi along with the (expected) PCs, and Rashid sends Ismir along with to keep her safe. Eventually, he will agree to letting them have two camels to carry supplies and water. He also tells her where he’s leading the Fa’iel so she can hook back up with them later.
  • Zistral announces that he’s not going with them, but is instead taking the Leashed One – who hopefully has a name now – with him to try and liberate the other centaurs from servitude. So that writes him out.
  • I had the players all roll a number of 3d checks in the “tower” (so I could see the result(s), but they couldn’t) and then plugged them into the hex map. My thinking is that each hex has a frequency of appearance for a random encounter – the Great Desert is 6 or less and the Djinn Lands they enter is 9 or less due to the close proximity of several settlements/fortresses. So I’ve preplanned those encounters according to the results of the player’s rolls. The “random events” are retrofitted from “Mirror of the Fire Demon” but tweaked a little bit to better fit the location, so fewer orcs and more more yuan-ti or djinn enslaved centaurs or lion-people, etc.
  • Gestlin is also a Weirdness Magnet and I fully intend on flagrantly abusing that so everyone is kind of sick of travelling with him by the end. There will be several offhand references to the weird crap before we get to the first actual Weird event – he’s going to have been trailed by a veritable swarm of lizards that stare at him unblinkingly for an entire day; a flock of birds crapped all over the entire party, somehow missing him in the process, and the droppings landed in a pattern that looks suspiciously like his personal sigil; that sort of thing – but the first major Weird event involves … a dragon. Said dragon will hit everyone with its Terror effect, then drop down to eat one of the camels. It then has a conversation with Gestlin and apologizes over eating the camel before offering to pay for it with a magic spear it got from some odd human who didn’t taste very good. This spear is likely going to be Ismir’s “destiny item” and I’m still figuring out the properties – I’m leaning toward it basically being a morphing weapon (so it can transform from short spear to longspear with a Ready action), and I kind of like the idea that its also a Loyal weapon (if thrown, it can return to the owner), but I sort of want to make it more than that. Like it demands to be used, so the wielder has to make a Will check to avoid drawing the spear when he goes for a weapon. Maybe also throw in Unbreakable so it can’t be shattered? But otherwise, it provides no actual combat enhancement like extra damage or armor penetration…
  • I’ve got a couple other “weirdness magnet” events that I’m going to sprinkle in during the trip, including a “manastorm” that’ll do a bunch of weird things to the characters – Brum’s beard and hair catch on fire … but don’t actually burn; he just always looks like he’s got a beard that’s on fire; Haruki grows 1d+2 inches in height; etc. – but those will happen over the course of the trip.
  • The first actual random event turned out to be rather amusing: not only did it come up as caravan (which I retrofitted from that Caravan to Ein Arris adventure), but it also provided djinn centaurs and a Leashed One. Thinking this through, I’ve figured that this likely means the centaurs are attacking the caravan … which means PCs could get involved and hit the centaurs from behind. Ultimately, though, they might also be able to obtain enough camels from the caravan survivors to ride toward Zat al-Dawahi’s fortress instead of walking, which is significantly speed up the process. But since this includes a tactical combat, there’s no way I’m really planning for more … in fact, it seems highly likely that we may end the session immediately before that tactical combat, so session 3 begins with (and possibly consists solely of) it…