|Zombie poster by Jeff Proctor distributed by Mondo/Alamo Drafthouse|
We began the session with the PC's fortifying Firewatchkeep. Due to their candy filled coma the DM had to provide a lot of suggestions on areas where it might help to barricade, areas to destroy or objects to move for the impending zombie apocalypse. In the end the the PC's with ranged abilities (Streetshark and Quickman) would hole up on the second floor and guard the only entrance to the arrow slit room where the Priestess, infected NPC's and the remaining PC Brock Sampson, incredible bodyguard that he is, would be holed up. The two PC's upstairs barricaded one door, applied Salve of Slipperiness on the only staircase leading up and took up vantage points to see anyone entering from the North or South. They then took note of what Scrolls they happened upon during their initial search.
Streetshark had found Chiseled Champion and Marionette Marauders, both in the possession of a former puppet master magician. This would allow him to conjure forth marionette warriors from nearby junk or to animate a statue as a guardian, both of which required Line of Sight which solidified their placement. Getting creative he decided to take the Distillery they found earlier and use Chiseled Champion on it while it guarded the bridge from the Bell-tower into the second floor, they then filled the Distillery Golem with the cask of nails they found such that when it over-pressurized it would explode and frag everything nearby. Quickman had found a Sea at Storm scroll found on the Chaplain of the Storm God's Corpse. It would summon ferocious winds and a thunderstorm, however, since Quickman has no formal Arcane training and the relevant Ability Score was not high enough casting the scroll could prove fatal. When a magical mishap occurs, if it is not already written in the spell text then the DM is free to create their own. Although in most cases the mishap means that the spell backfires and targets the caster instead. When Quickman first noticed the Drowned One rising from the surf he decided to tempt fate and seal off the southern beach. Getting lucky he avoided his brain being melted by a vengeful lightning storm and blocked off the beach from any further interlopers. He repeated this on the North Side but luck was not on his side, so he spent every last Intrepid Die he had to tip him over into the realm of success. With both North and South beaches impenetrable from the Storms it meant the PC's would have a break after they defeated the initial onslaught. It also meant that Quickman drew firstblood as he wiped out a pair of Drowned Ones.
|Quickman Megaman 2 Comic Cover|
The Drowned Ones stormed the Northern and Southern entrances with a cadre of 4 Drowner each. Drowners were once dead sailors at sea that had been corrupted by the god of fishheads. In this case they ended up being surprisingly nimble. The Drowned Ones have a life-sense ability and immediately detected the group hiding in the Archer room, the Drowner mindless as they are reached for them but drew back naught but a bloody stump as Brock Sampsons Machete dismembered them. The southern team sent their Drowned Dead into the main hall and they were quickly shot down, the sole survivor made it to the staircase but then slipped on the Salve of Slipperiness. Through sheer luck the Drowner survived another round and scampered up the bannister to lash out at Streetshark whose Morningstar quickly put him out of his misery. Meanwhile a pair of Drowned Ones were scaling the bridge from the dining hall, Streetshark caught wind of it and casting the Chiseled Champion spell once more and avoiding a magical mishap he commanded the Distillery Golem to jump and crash down on the bridge. On the following round the Drowned Ones rolled poorly and were unable to damage the Distillery before it overpressurized and sent shrapnel everywhere.
|SteamPunkGolem by Viejuno|
Had the rest of the Drowned Ones followed suit the PC's would have had an easy time, unfortunately for them the Drowned Ones have a Hivemind. Instead they took separate paths, avoided the mainhall and moved up to the second floor where their path was blocked by the earlier barricaded door. Crafty as they were one Drowner continued beating on the door like some mindless undead while the remaining two moved north and scouted for another entrance. They began working away the masonry in the fireplace that connected it with the north room, directly above where Brock Sampson and the NPC's were holed up. Quickman was smart enough to predict this and surprised them when they broke through. Gutting the first one, the second one proved to be more than a match for his usual skirmishing tricks. Backed into corner, nauseating by the Undeads appearance and about to fall beneath an avalanche of blows Brock Sampson smashed open the Trap Door. With an abundance of unused Intrepid dice he cut loose and grabbed the Drowned One by the ankles and together they dropped the 10ft to the floor. In midair Brock twisted around and landed on the Drowned One knocking the water out of his lungs, before finishing it off in a display of gratuitous violence the next turn.
As the storms rage on the PC's have a chance to catch their breath, rest and refortify. During this break they are able to recover their HD and their Intrepid Dice at the end of the scene. This wave was a blast as a GM as the Hivemind ability allowed me to make use of my eye in the sky in outmaneuvering the PCs. This time, with their hivemind knowledge the Drowned Ones knew the PC's tricks and that they were still holed up in the second floor. The leader of the pack, a Drowned Assassin entered through the belltower and made his way down, he clung to the ceiling above where the bridge was and waited for an opportunity to strike. Another batch of Drowned Fighters entered but waited for the Drowned Monks to strike and draw their attention. The first came from the North entrance and with his astonishing speed charged directly up the bannister with unearthly agility and dropkicked Quickman. Attempted I should say. The abyssmal critical miss followed up by Quickman's superb Critical Hit ended in a midair decapitation. The other Waterlogged Monk made a dashing entrance by leaping from the broken bridge up to the second floor and immediately assaulting Streetshark with a flury of blows. After the upstairs duo managed to flank the monk he broke off and disappeared downstairs.
|Zombie Pirate Ninja|
After a while of nothing happening the PC's decided to investigate. Quickman slid downstairs and began investigating the kitchen and the larder to see if there was another secret passage. He was ambushed by the Drowned Fighters but with his superior maneuverability was able to whittle them down. As the skirmish moved upstairs the Monk ambushed him but fortunately Quickman was able to slay enough Drowned Ones before MobViolence won the fight. The two skirmish fighters created an unexpected situation where they both attempted to disengage and then both failed. Comical to be sure but perplexing and I'm glad playtesting picked it up.
Meanwhile, Streetshark moved the statue of the stormgod from the chaplains chambers to block the previously barricaded door and waited by the broken bridge. Seeing him all alone the Assassin took this time to strike. Taking a vicious wound to the back Streetshark faced off against the assassin in the northern room, directly above the survivors. This is important because Streetshark thought he was being clever when he used his elemental stonecutter ability and carved out the section of floor the assassin was standing on. He plummeted downward, and naturally squished the red shirt below at which point the Assassin then slew the priestess. This meant that Morley, their contact who they owed money too no longer had anyone to stave off his bluerot zombie infection. At this point I figured it was a good time to unleash the horde of previous tenant zombies, who were placed in any room the PC's were thought to be invulnerable, namely the arrow slit rooms. Brock Sampson then got to earn his fill as he fought off both the Assassin and a horde of zombies. Upstairs, Streetshark and Quickman flanked the remaining Monk who proceeded to critically hit and break Streetsharks nose killing him. Quickman swiftly avenged him. The remaining two PC's took the magicians underwater gear and went to the Dagon's Maw, the Tammeraud's final resting place. There the captain bound to his ship offered them a chance to become immortal undead, unaffected by most mortal wounds. The player's were simply not interested and proceeded to lay waste to the Captain and his Ship. The adventure concluded with the slain Priestess, Morley, and Streetshark rising from the dead as Drowned Ones.
All in all a very fun conclusion. Hivemind is terrific as a DM because you no longer need to worry about metagaming and you can apply as much strategy as you desire. This playtest group is typically the kick-in-the-door or socializing treachery type and is not known for their strategic cunning but surprised me quite a bit with how well they held up. The adventure was intended to be lethal for any mid-level 3rd edition party and they performed admirably. The Hit Dice mechanic played out very well and influenced the PC's into creating a personal safe zone with the summoned storms even if it was nearly at the cost of Quickman's life. Similarly, combat, armor class, and damage are all stable and we even saw a return of Double or Nothing which has the potential to be problematic but we'll focus on that in another playtest. So far I'm very happy with what I have and I'm working on revising and creating a MKII Core Rules. Look forward to it.