Planescape Next

The Eternal Boundary, part 3

In which our heroes begin to stumble into the dark of what is happening to the barmies.

They’re starting to put the puzzle together: barmies are turning up dead suspiciously, and some well-trained people are running around with a feign death spell. Maybe people aren’t actually dying after all.

First, the run to the Mortuary to tell Toranna the Grey that not all the barmies being delivered are dead – some might be subject to magic making it look like they are. She assures them the Dustmen will thoroughly check every body.

A bit suspicious, Belker Bitterleath IV uses his Mercykiller ability to use detect lies on one question per day: “Were you lying when you said you would check each body?” “No.” (answer is true).

Anyone who knows the dark behind the adventure as a whole will giggle at this particular point.

The PCs then head to the Butcher’s Block to confront Trunfeld Three-Teeth, thinking he called a hit out on them. They were unsure whether it would be OK to do this, but I reminded them that Planescape is not only very urban fantasy, but also ostensibly “you can try talking to just about everyone, it’s not all just stabbing. In a crime or noir story, if someone tries to kill you and fails, what do you do? Pay ’ema visit.”

Upon seeing them, Three-Teeth just starts laughing and points to the stairway – where the wizard who escaped before is just coming down, clearly having hurriedly packed his bags and ready to get the hell out of the Hive.

The wizard wins initiative and casts a huge fireball that fills the bar (Elric, a Signer, fails his reflexive saving throw vs illusions and everyone falls for it). The bar erupts into chaos as everyone tries to get out, and the wizard ducks behind some cover. The ranger manages to plug him with an arrow and the Adrin Xiloscent webs the back of the bar, but the wizard manages to dodge out of the way and they lose sight of him in the chaos. Elric pushes his way to the back of the bar but can’t find the wizard (he failed another reflexive saving throw against change self).

Turga Killdrak steps outside the bar to watch people as they exit, hoping to catch the wizard, but Adrin tries to stop the human tsunami and gets trampled for his efforts. He turns into a bear and scares the already-terrified bar patrons out the back of the bar, further adding to the chaos and causing even more people to get trampled in the chaos.

Bars in the Hive are not known for meeting fire code regulations.

Ultimately, the wizard escaped again, though the PCs were able to talk to Three-Teeth and search his room. His name is The Shadowknave, and he’s been operating out of the Butcher’s Block for the past year with a rotating squad of mercenaries. Three-Teeth has been selling him lists of barmies no one would miss, and Eliath was indeed on one of those lists.

Elric hires Three-Teeth to track down where the Shadowknave is hiding now.

Adrin tries some slop-slop with the “house special” liquid from an unmarked ceramic bottle Three-Teeth pulled out after the chaos stopped, and promptly falls unconscious.

Belker tries some normal slop-slop and starts vomiting. He tries some more; continues to vomit. Eventually he uses his spoon to flick some slop-slop at the ogre, who then palms his skull and slams him into the ground to silence him.

At that point, the PCs retire for the evening.

The next day, at their usual meeting location, the “Outside Inn,” they are preparing for their day when a courier runs up and says Bendon Mawl wants to see them. They find out that Eliath has been spotted alive-and-well, and part of the Doomguard now. Apparently he’s at the Black Sail, a tavern in the Lower Ward. Loucan is a member of the Doomguard, so Bendon is a bit suspicious – especially when the elf asks “Does this guy know any secrets the Sensates don’t want the Doomguard to know?”

Bendon is convinced that the Doomguard and Dustmen are conspiring on some nasty plot, and maybe the Bleaker & Xoasitects are in on it too, since the Hive is their backyard.

Notes & Commentary

This session was basically a “skill challenge” of sorts – I didn’t want to run a combat for the bar chaos, so I just winged it with lots of skill rolls. The wizards basically made a big distraction and then used change self to look like someone else and escape in the chaos. The PCs (especially Elric, who has an automatic save against all illusions as part of the Sign of One) rolled really poorly on the whole. The Shadowknave has escaped from them twice now.

Otherwise, there weren’t too many playtest notes: this was the first time players really got that they prepare spells but they don’t assign spells to individual slots. They really liked that.

One comment was about the character sheet: one player liked having resources to track (hit dice, expertise dice) but wished there was some easy way to mark them on the character sheet, like boxes or something to fill in/erase.

Also, they reiterated that “this was about the right amount of crunch.” They were also enjoying the amount of interaction and investigative nature of the adventure/campaign, which is nice.

As a GM, I’m still surprised by how easy running D&D Next is. Still not really exciting on a mechanical level, which really frustrates me as a player, but as a GM it’s thin enough that I rarely have to stop and think about it. If I’m in doubt, have a player roll a d20 and see what comes up. So far it’s worked pretty well. I do feel like I need to sit down and go through spells and monsters to get a better feeling for context and standard levels, though.

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