The Tanius Campaign Journal – Chapter 18: Toil and Trouble
Josh and Renlia exchanged glances. They were initially offended by my deception, however I was able to calm somewhat by explaining the details of my reveal. The real Milo Bottleluck was a man I ran into while I was wandering the Amber Plains. I found him leaned up against a tree with a great wound in his abdomen. I tried to treat his wounds, but it quickly become clear to both of us that he was not going to make it through the night.
I did my best to comfort him in the waning hours of his life, and during this final discussion he told me a great deal of his life story. He was actually on the way to Endgar to enroll in the Bard’s College of Lore, and told me that his greatest regret was that he would never be able to share a book of poems and stories he had written over his life. His dying wish was for me to deliver the book to the college, and tell bards his story. When I promised him I would fulfill this final request a look of great relief passed over his face, and moments later the light flickered from his eyes.
I initially intended to simply fulfill his request, but during the long trek to Endgar I had an idea. What if I were to become Milo Bottleluck and create an even greater legacy for him? After-all I have quite the penchant for storytelling myself, and I believed I would make a fine bard. So part way through my journey I assumed a new identity. From that moment forward I told the world “my name is Milo Bottleluck”.
As I told my tale I saw Josh and Renlia’s annoyance quickly shifted to intrigue. Recognizing that I once again had the upper-hand I stopped telling my tale. I told the two of them that they would only hear the rest of my tale once I had heard the rest of theirs. After briefly exchanging glances one last time Renlia sat back down and continued recounting her tale.
A Tempting Offer
Campaign Log Day 7 - Part 4
20th day of Kythorn - Night's Heart
Year of The Rebuked Storm - 1574 Dale Reckoning
Endgar Outskirts - Blackheart Manor
As our heroes were tending their wounds the silence in the room was broken by a disembodied voice. The party sprang into their fighting stances, but once the source of the sound was determined they relaxed somewhat. A painting of a woman on the northern wall of the room was projecting the voice of a cackling old lady through the woman’s mouth.
After mocking our heroes a fair bit and scolding them for their poor manners, the voice finally introduced itself as "Betty Blackbottom". She claimed the only reason she was residing in the manor was simply to help bring the family back together. After Sturgis died the family quickly devolved into chaos and infighting. Betty watched them from afar for some time, but eventually grew tired of the bickering and decided to implement her own solution to the problem.
However, instead of explaining the details of her solution, she made an offer to the party. Having discovered that Renlia is the last living member of the Blackheart family line, she asked the party to help complete the reunion. In exchange for Renlia's capture, she offered to vacate Blackheart manor and hand it over to the party.
Initially many of the party members did not protest the idea. Renlia started to become incredulous, but was eventually calmed somewhat when Lilyth stepped in and refused the offer outright. Instead of rejecting Lilyth's assertion the party decided to once again remain silent. With a vote of 2 objections and the rest abstaining, Betty took it as a sign that her offer was refused. With this verdict she warned the party that they had made a grave mistake, and after a loud and shrill laugh the painting once again was still.
The party considered their options and decided that they weren't going to let some rude wench dictate how the evening was going to go. In what I imagine was an act of defiance, they decided to continue their rest on the dining room table.
No Rest For The Wicked
Renlia had hardly strummed the first notes of her song of rest before a flash of lights and a stream of magical bolts struck Lilyth.
Party: Bellamy(Sor-4), Kiddo(Ftr-1/Wlk-3), Kroul(Clr-4), Lilyth(Drd-4), Ungoldor(Rog-4), Rkard(Bbn-4), Renlia(Brd-4)
Enemies: 1x Night Hag
Base Difficulty Rating: Medium
Modified Difficulty Rating: Hard - Ambushed
Expected Outcome: Minor HP Loss and the Hag escapes
Actual Outcome: Minor HP Loss and the Hag escapes
Tactical Considerations: The party is huddled up on the table in the middle of the room. The Night Hag has a surprise attack, and has a clear escape path. The party will need to act quickly if they are going to accomplish anything meaningful.
How It Went Down: The Hag used her at will Magic Missle spell to land some guaranteed damage and then immediately turned tail and ran. Ungoldor was able to use cunning action to sprint and land a crossbow shot on her, but her high HP pool resulted in this being largely meaningless. Once her turn came up again she quickly used her heartstone to shift back into the ethereal plane.
The party looked over and saw the crone standing in the hallway leading to the library and immediately gave chase. The old wench was surprisingly fast, but Ungoldor was faster. His roguish nature allowed him to run in a full sprint while drawing his crossbow and landing a bolt in her back shoulder. Kiddo attempted to fire a blast of eldritch magic into the crone, however a green glow emitted from a stone in the crone's hand and before any more attacks could land she disappeared into the ether.
When Renlia saw the stone in the crone's hand she was able to immediately figure out what they were up against. She informed the party that they were currently being hunted by a Night Hag. She figured that the way the hag was "reuniting" the family was by trapping all of their souls into her soul bag, and transporting them to Hades. Most importantly, unless the party is able to steal the soulstone clutched in her hand, it would be virtually impossible to kill her. This is because the soulstone allows her to travel freely between the material and ethereal planes.
Despite the challenging circumstances, the party was not discouraged. However, with their wounds mounting they knew that before they could execute any plan on such a dangerous foe they needed to rest. This time the party opted to head upstairs and rest in the 5th room they cleared, where the magic wand was discovered. Once they were inside they were able to barricade the door behind them and spend the next hour tending to their wounds.
DM Note: Resting Mid-Dungeon
One issue with the standard encounter design philosophy of 5th edition is it relies on the party having limited opportunities to rest. This is a problem because every party I have DMed or played with will usually go to great lengths to rest and ensure they are in optimal fighting condition. As a result it falls on the DM to find ways to restrict the party's ability to rest mid-dungeon. I was able to stop the previous rest with the Night Hag, but once the party huddled up in a small room it became too dangerous for the hag to interfere. The hag could likely survive any nova damage the party did to her, but the risk of her losing her heartstone or getting stunlocked was too great. As a result the party was able to earn their short rest, but this also gave the hag an opportunity to shake off the damage from the previous encounter.
During the short rest Lilyth was able to spend some time looking the wand over, and determined that it was a wand of detect magic. Excited at the prospect of being able to pinpoint more loot she attuned herself to the wand. However, as she grew to understand the wand more she eventually discovered that it had a more nefarious nature than she had originally bargained for.
Item: Homebrew - Cursed Wand of Magic Detection
Item Type: Wand
Description: Allows the user to cast the 'Detect Magic' spell three times per day. At sunrise the spell charges are restored. However, the owner of the wand is inflicted with a curse that makes them uncontrollably drawn to magical items. Whenever the user sees a new magic item they must roll a DC 10 Wisdom save. On failure the user suffers disadvantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and savings throws until that item is in their possession. The user can be obsessed with up to three items at once.
As soon as her attunement was complete she began to feel an almost unstoppable compulsion. She anxiously looked around at all of the magical equipment being held by her brothers and sisters in arms, and started to feel deeply covetous. She was eventually able to calm her nerves, but feared that any magic items they found in the future could trigger an even greater compulsion.
The storm outside was now producing gale force winds. The rain pounded against the walls producing an echo throughout the manor. The party prepared to head downstairs and attempt to lay a trap, but while they were getting ready Kroul wanted to have another word with Sturgis' ghost in the master bedroom.
Kroul explained to the ghost the party's concerns around freeing an undead creature they found in a house that is trying to kill them. Sturgis understood their concern, and asked if there was anything he could do to prove his worth. Kroul asked Sturgis if he knew a way to force the hag into the material plane so the party could take her down. Sturgis nodded back at Kroul and stated that he did in fact have a way.
If the party released him from her magical prison, he offered to chase the wench down himself.