Running Sky ov Crimson Flame (again!)
I can't tell you how many times I've run this adventure, you'd think I'd be sick of it by now, but (and for obvious reasons: new players, etc) every experience is different and this go round was just as fun as my first playtest. It should be noted however that I like to change things around a bit, test out new ideas, change the monster stats, and other various things to keep myself interested. I'm counting each one of these sessions as a mini-playtest of sorts so that the 2nd printing will be better than the original and maybe even different than the first.
Anyways on to the session recap! (This weekend is a bit hazy, but I'll try to remember as much as I can.) As some of you may know this is a 0-level adventure. I had 6 players, each with 4 0-level PCs. The first encounter they faced were the wretched villagers, flayed humans whose minds had cracked and were now essentially zombies of a sort. The party as a whole did well with this first combat challenge, but at least one PC went down, his belly having been ripped open and his innards pulled out.
[Judge's Note: Over the years I have learned that if you roll initiative in the standard fashion in a funnel adventure the PCs may over take the monsters before you get a chance to attack. My fix is to have the players roll initiative (a simple d20 roll). I right down their scores and all their characters go in order, but one or two monsters get to interject between the players turns, pop-corn style. I feel like this makes combat more "cinematic". This usually only works when you have a group of monsters or a monster with multiple attacks.]
After the dwarves of the party chanted funeral rites over the dead and gave them a quick burial, the party continue East, heading in the direction of the fiery red star that was falling from the sky. They eventually ended up at the edge of a cliff, where two flayed forms hung crucified. A natural rock bridge lead over the valley to the Ancient Keep. There was a horrid fat bat chewing on one of the corpses. They decide to attack the bat and miss sticking the corpse with an arrow. The bat flies up to the attack the party and they discover it's actually a child's head with bat wings attached! At the same time the corpses heads pop off and attack, attempting to spear the PCs with their spinal cords.
The party easily dispatches this bunch and decides to quickly rush across the bridge, pressing close against the portcullis as to not be seen from the battlements. One of the PCs (I forget who now) nimbly climbs up the 40' tower walls (they rolled really high!) and peaks over the edge. At the same time they do this they spot a pair of cherub head-bats, cooing and giggling to themselves, as they push over one of the stag-headed gargoyles. The PC climbing has time to warn the party, dropping the dagger in his mouth to do so, and most of the characters below jump out of the way except one who is pancaked by the falling statue.
Other PCs decide to start climbing as the bridge begins to collapse, but another statue is pushed over by other pair of head-bats. When this statue crashes, the entire bridge section collapses and the PCs luckily fall to the ledge below. Another unfortunately PC was splattered!
[Judge's Note: In the adventure it is written that each PC must succeed a Reflex or Luck save or fall to the valley below. I decided I did want to kill too many PCs this early in the game and waved this save.]
Now on the ledge the party could head either left or right. They decided right, but before they traveled down this ledge one of the PCs just happen to have a cart (don't you just love the nonsensical nature of 0-level PC equipment!) and decided, with the help of other PCs equipment, to build a sort of mannequin by stacking wood in the cart to look like a person, with a carved face and some hair glued on with honey. They rolled their decoy down the rocky trail in the hopes of avoiding a trap.
Well it worked! Three head-bats swooped down and exploded (they had bombs attached to them) where the cart landed. This created a hole in the side of the rock that lead to the catacombs beneath the keep. The PCs entered the catacombs and after some hesitation, his skeleton seemed cursed or had elephantiasis, took the sword from the skeletal remains of an ancient king. A series of steps lead to a backside of a secret door which led to a corridor within the keep.
After inspecting some old tapestries they managed to pick the locks to the library. As soon as they opened the door they spotted a nude figure standing on the balcony. Deciding this person was no good one of the PCs attempting to push it over the edge and MISSED! With a swirl of liquid like movement the things flesh instantly turned around and swallow the PC whole inside it's corrupted puss filled flesh. After a few of the other party members stabbed at the monster (and killed the PC within) one of the players wanted to perform a mighty-deed to decapitate the monster!
(As Judge I decided that if they could hit the creature's AC and roll a 6 on a d6 it would happen and guess what... IT DID!)
The PC ran and sliced the things head from its shoulders! Being only a husk of flesh the head was caught up by the wind and flew over the edge of the balcony while the rest of the creatures body deflated and melted in to a steaming pile of yellow goo! With the horror gone the PCs decided to explore the Library and found: a scroll (which one opened and was immediately mummified, the rest of the party burned the body lest it rise anew), a box with a face (which ended up being the face of a PC's lover, he lost a point of Intelligence from the shock!), some letters, fleshy pants, and a bottle with a grey phallic thing.
(At this point we we're at the 3 hour mark at it was 2am on my side of the world so we decided to call it a night and resume at a later date.)
If you liked this story, then consider purchasing my adventure Sky ov Crimson Flame! As of this writing there are only 20 copies left!