I've been trying out the Chris Perkins method, where you run each session like an episode of a TV show. I zoom in on a scenario and don't fill it with clutter.
It is working really well, honestly. By slowing down the pace a little, I think the players are able to absorb everything better and feel more involved in what is going on.
(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Half-Dabus/Half-Elf Wizard
* NPCs - Fall From Grace (Succubus Paladin), Selinza ("Litorian" Wizard, level 8)
Each character has powers linked to the Lady of Pain:
- Theran can create buildings in Sigil and he can banish people to extra-dimensional mazes.
- Bidam can look at people and cause cuts to appear on their body and he can create portals in Sigil.
The heroes own a cluster of buildings known as "Deadbook Square."
Last Time: Theran is a fugitive. He escaped custody and the Mercykillers have a bounty hunter coming after him who has a magical warrant of holding. The heroes decided to go to the plane of Acheron to free some prisoners who can prove that the leader of The Mercykillers is crazy.
Theran's girlfriend Convivia Kettle gave him three more goodberries. She's still having trouble with the recipe. Each berry had a magic power that would actually help the group in this session:
- White: The power to magically create a perfect forgery.
- Blue/Purple Swirl: Heal/repair metal three times
- Reddish Orange: Create a protective dome in a 20 foot radius as a reaction one time. Lasts just 6 seconds at most.
I decided that Foulgore Grue, the Mercykiller with the warrant of holding, was three hours behind the group. So basically, if they stayed in one spot for three hours, he'd catch up to them and we'd have ourselves an encounter.
The Mile-Long Stairs
As the groups squeezed past each other, a slave-soldier tried to pick Bidam's pocket. Bidam grabbed her by the arm and threw her down the stairs.
A fight broke out and Theran killed the other two with magic missiles. They looted a scroll containing the 6th level spell Cube Hopper - it lets you teleport between cubes on Acheron. This is part of my policy of always giving the group new spells if they're in the material I am using.
The woman Bidam threw was alive but hurt badly. Bidam wanted to finish her, but Fall From Grace stopped him. She used lay on hands to heal the woman and gave her some gold to start a new life.
She scolded Bidam for his callous attitude.
Vorkehan, City of Fumes
The Spell Crystal: I wanted to remind the group about spell crystals (they whiz around Acheron, containing a spell that goes off when they shatter). A crystal hit Theran and let out a burst of positive energy that gave the whole group inspiration. I've decided to actually put inspiration into an encounter each session so I don't forget about it.
They arrived at Vorkehan, a city made of huge pieces of metal bolted together. The adventurers lied to the guards and said they had come to sign on as slave-soldiers. They were allowed in.
The Revolutionary League had to told the adventurers to meet up with their spy in a bar - his name was Waldgrave. The heroes made their way through the noxious fumes of the city.
Waldgrave's Magic Power: In the bar was Waldgrave and three Mercykiller officers. The group clued Waldgrave in to who they were. He was a jolly fellow, and he revealed to them that he had a special magic power - he can store things in a pocket realm. He was very mysterious about it.
He said he came from a world here everyone was born with a power similar to a magic item. His was like a bag of holding.
George knows me too well. He immediately asked this guy if the portal was in his butt. Waldgrave stammered a lame denial.
I made this guy after I saw Jim Darkmagic mention keistering the rod of seven parts on Acquisitions Incorporated. I immediately paused the show and wrote this idea down.
So here's the deal. The prisoners that the heroes need are being forced to work in The Mines of Marsellin on another cube. That cube is about to collide with another cube within a few hours.
The miners got attacked by rust monsters, and thus they are stuck in the mines and will likely die when the cubes collide. The collision will cause all sorts of cave-ins and carnage.
The group needed to get to the mines, rescue the miners and get off of the cube before the collision occurred.
But first, they needed to get the portal key to use the gate to the Mines of Marsellin. There were three officers in the bar that knew this information.
I was looking for more races to use in Planescape and I stumbled on the Planetouched. There's all sorts of cool stuff! I've begun adding them in to my campaign. The officers were all Maeluths (half-dwarf/half-demon). They have red eyes, are almost hairless and wear spiked armor. The officers:
- Lamina: Rainbow hair, looked bored.
- Flaneur: A severe gambling problem
- Xertz: Follows orders to the letter
Bidam lives by the philosophy of "hit it and quit it," and so he seduced Lamina and learned the portal key in no time. The key was a spoken motto: "Slavery is just."
The Mines of Marsellin
Then we were off to the mines, on a cube made entirely of metal junk. The heroes appeared in the mines and tried to find the slave-miners as fast as possible. Time was of the essence.
I ran this like a 4e skill challenge. Failure on a check meant that more time was taken.
1. The group stumbled on a band of modrons sorting items into piles. The modrons gathered around Bidam and Theran, recognizing them as the heroes who helped them complete the rogue modron march. They bopped up and down, letting out the AOL dial-up modem noise.
One modron agreed to help the group traverse the mines. It knew exactly when the cubes would collide, and could provide a countdown.
2. The group found a really cool item - a metal carriage with demons carved into it. The main demon was Nocticula. Waldgrave offered to use his magic power to store it, and made up some story to get them to let him do it in private.
Theran used Selinza's mirror to peer around a corner. Yep, the portal was in his butt. The carriage went in. The portal stretches... you don't want to know.
3. The group needed to cross a rusted bridge. No check was needed. Bidam ate a goodberry and healed the metal of the bridge.
4. They heard the sound of battle in a side-tunnel.
These were indeed the political prisoners Factol Nilesia had sent away simply because they didn't agree with her politics. I used some more planetouched races for NPCs:
- Atromesia: A fey'ri (half-elf/half-demon). She was tall, had reddish skin and batlike wings.
- Dromos: An azerblood (half-dwarf/half-azer). He had brass skin and his irises danced like flames.
The modron blurted out: "T-minus 5 minutes and counting.." The collision was imminent! The group needed to get to the gate to Mechanus deeper in the mines immediately. This was a skill challenge that was fated to be interrupted:
1. Help the prisoners who were wounded so they could keep up. Fall From Grace used the rest of her lay on hands to heal them.
2. Most of the shackles were rusted off by the rust monsters, but three remained. Bidam used his sword of sharpness to slice them off.
3. Head to the gate..
The skill challenge was interrupted. The group was racing through the mines when a massive creature came out around a corner - Coirosis the rust dragon!
The Rust Dragon
Bidam tried to play the dragonborn card. He told Coirosis that the collision was imminent and that they were both dragons, so they should just go their separate ways.
Coirosis didn't seem worried about the collision. Jessie rolled high on her diplomacy, so Coirosis told Bidam to move on. Coirosis wanted the others. Bidam refused. We rolled initiative!
Bidam and Selinza dropped more fireballs. Theran also used an ice storm.
The dragon's legendary actions were devastating. Three tail swipes that do 15 damage each!
The dragon breathed oxidants and reddish-brown liquid that destroyed all metal. Dex save DC 18. Saves were failed.
I declared that magic items were not affected. To me, that would be a really harsh thing to do. The sword of sharpness rusted into oblivion? Not cool, IMO.
Bidam's plate mail was gone. He was completely naked. Fall From Grace's chastity bodice lost all the clasps. The chastity bodice is what keeps her on the path to goodness! It never comes off. She had to spend a round to secure it.
|The Iggwilv dress|
Selinza flipped out and dropped big spells on the dragon.
The modron blurted out: "10...9...8.." The collision was about to happen! The dragon flew away, down a mine shaft.
The group wasn't going to make it to the portal. They had a goodberry that could create a protective dome, but there were 50 prisoners! Only a few could fit in the dome.
There was one other option. They had to climb into Waldgrave's butt of holding. They did, all cringing and holding their nose. Bidam picked up Fall From Grace, who was unconscious, and put her in there.
Bidam got a glimpse of the Keister-Realm: There was grass, light, piles of weird items... and yes, a mountain of feces off in the distance.
The cubes collided with a deafening thud. Huge chunks of metal fell from the ceiling. Theran created the protective dome. It blocked the falling debris for 6 seconds, then shut off.
More debris fell, injuring and partially burying the group. Waldgrave failed his save. Metal fell on his head. He died. All those people were trapped in the Keister-Realm!
The heroes got up, coughing. They were covered in dust and were generally in shambles. Bidam picked up Waldgrave's body, intent on having him raised. The group limped to the portal to Mechanus and uttered the portal key: A math equation whose answer was 3.14.
Escape to Mechanus
To their surprise, high-ranking modrons were waiting for them. It turned out that a prescient visitor had known the group would come here and wanted to have a special meeting. That visitor was Quimath the chain devil, agent of the Iron Shadow!
He looked down on the group from a balcony, with his devil allies beside him. He held up a wine glass and in his German accent said, "You have nussing to fear! Ve are going to make a deal..."
That's where we stopped.
The whole thing flowed real nice and it was a lot of fun. The less I prepare, the better the game is.