D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 25 Recap

Cloaks come to life, more air cultists are slain, Kenku ambush the wizard, and the party argues about the morality of using Animate Dead.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Role-playing with my players through various NPCs can be a lot of fun. As a DM what really excites me is seeing my players role-play amongst themselves, completely on their own. The times I can just sit back with a big smile on my face and watch events unfold is fantastic.

A standard dungeon crawl might not lend itself to these moments too often, even when I try to present some interesting scenarios. Leave it my players to concoct their own scenes involving a PC using Animate Dead, and a Paladin’s moral dilemma.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First we leveled up to 7. It was a bit awkward as they Long Rested last session, but I prefer to give them a week to prepare any new abilities or spells. Talus especially always has new toys to play with.

The party continued to explore the ruined shops around the old plaza district in the Temple of Howling Hatred.

The Cloaker has a 25% chance of being in one of the rooms. I initially started rolling a d4 to try and suss it out, but knew I wanted my PCs to battle it anyway. At the point where they were feeling cocky and split up to explore the empty rooms, I had our greediest member Kethra find the innocuous cloak. She immediately went to grab it.

“Gotcha Monsters” are a fun surprise. Fiends like the Mimic or Piercer are made to ambush unsuspecting PCs. Use too many and your party will probably crawl through every dungeon at a snail’s pace. But layering in a few is a great way to make them more cautious.

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Of course I’m not sure if my PCs will actually learn a lesson of scouting and using Perception. They seem entirely keen on charging into rooms then figuring things out later. And hell – it’s worked fairly well for them so far!

The Cloaker is a fun beast with a lot of unique abilities. It has an AOE fear, built-in Mirror Image, and Multiattack and involves grappling a target and transferring sustained damage. It may have been a bit too much for me, as I’m just now realizing I completely forgot to ever apply its Displace Image effect after using it. Crap!

The Cloaker wrapped around Kethra, and the rest of the party tried for several rounds to pry it off, after seeing any damage they did also hit their friend. The Moan ability frightened off Kalinaar for a round, and I loved that he jumped when one of Talus’ smoke mephits entered the room.

Strong monsters are fun but when there’s just one the balance is always out of whack. Even with multiattack it’s easy to get surrounded and destroyed pretty quickly. Like the Umber Hulk earlier, the Cloaker went down relatively easy, and partially due to my own ineptitude at running it. Ah well.

I was dissatisfied with the loot the campaign book presents, which is just a medium cache of gold. Gold seems next to worthless for my PCs as they get hundreds of it and not much to do with it. Magic items are meanwhile very few and far between.

Without a solid healer I also inject healing potions in most loot piles. I threw in an Ioun Stone that the PCs will need to identify. I hope to start introducing more simple or interesting magic items that won’t break the game but make loot a bit more fun and enjoyable.

The party continued East and I threw in some haunted ghost noises. I had used these previously at the entrance to the whole dungeon. I figure Kenku would try to frighten off intruders, but I suppose I could’ve also used it to draw them near. The sound effects are fun and Roll20 makes it really easy to incorporate them.

They opened the door to a large mess hall. No listening, no Perception, just straight up open the door. Then they had the audacity to say they should surprise those inside. Nice try guys.

The air cultists were less than amused and immediately attacked. Kethra used the Immovable Rod from the Umber Hulk’s lair to keep the door closed. Kalinaar saw to the East that there were other doors, and the fight shifted to that hallway as Initiates poured out.

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Talus threw up a Fog Cloud, and the Skyweaver responded with a Gust of Wind. I got a few good hits in(I always tend to do some solid damage with the Skyweaver’s Lightning Bolt spell) but these guys are generally pretty weak, and went down without much of a fuss.

I had the PCs find the Storm Boomerang in a backpack. I think the idea is for the Hurricane to use it in that fight, but I wanted the PCs to be able to use it before having to recharge it. I also tweaked it a bit to let it recharge after a Long Rest, and after some exposure to the open sky.

Further still to the East the party was naturally drawn to the gaping maw of a dead purple worm. “Uh guys, there’s a giant maw over here.”

However I still had my stealthy Kenku in the ruins to the north in play. And I noticed Talus exploring that area while the others were staring at the worm. I unleashed my ambush, rolling 22 for Initiative, which gave me a full surprise round, followed by the first turn of the regular round. And Talus was the only one around.

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His Shield spell saved his life. Not to mention some lucky rolls that went his way. The Kenku get Advantage on their surprise round, and I hit 2/5 rolls. In the first real round, more the rest of the Kenku appeared for a total of 6 or 7 attacks, about half of which struck. Had I advantage on that round, many more swords and arrows would have peppered the bleeding mage.

The rest of the party cleaned up the kenku very quickly. Miri alone took down two and stunned a third on her first turn. Kenku are not strong by any means but I do feel like I’ve played them very well so far, fully utilizing their stealthy nature. Especially here with trying to pick of a lone adventurer.

Then, Talus resurrected one of the Kenku as a zombie using his new Animate Dead spell.

As a former Red Wizard of Thay, Talus has a cavalier attitude toward undead, familiars, etc. As an Oath of Vengeance Paladin of Tyr, Kalinaar is less than cool with that. The two playfully role-played the scenario between their different views.

We’re all best friends and respectful of each other, and I thought they handled the role-playing really well. Eventually Kalinaar relented, mostly as a form of keeping the party together. Though he had a stern warning about using the spell upon “innocents.”

I awarded both characters with Inspiration, and I enjoyed the inner conflict and drama they created (meanwhile Kethra and Miri literally passed around a bowl of popcorn, hehe).

The gaping maw awaits. We ended the session just as I teased its open jaws that seemed to lead to an area below. Is it a treasure-filled gullet? A pool of stomach acid? Or an entirely new area? Tune in next week as our party continues to recklessly explore their surroundings and philosophize over the nature of undead.

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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