Pyren Campaign Diaries 6: Family Reunions!

Welcome back to another installment of me getting all of my thoughts out post session.

Last week started off with a confrontation from Krusk the Eldritch Knight's brother. He found out that his brother, Tonk, had been chasing him down to bring him back to Alvengate, the city where they were both enslaved. Tonk was offered his freedom if he succeeded.

All in all it was a fairly intense conversation. I think I was a little worried that the reveal itself wasn't too impressive but it was kinda cool having everyone asking questions about the two of them.

I had a few thoughts going into this encounter that I think were really important in making it a hit though. The first is that I did not have anything specifically planned. I knew there was a high chance for combat but I didn't start things off by just smashing heads. I let it build to a natural point where talking wasn't solving anything.

I knew that Krusk would take some time and try to persuade Tonk to leave him alone. It's only natural. I gave him that time to talk with his brother. To let Tonk reveal why he's chasing him. Why he can't just leave. And really dig into the issues the two had. But the way I have made Tonk, a Fighter Barbarian multiclass with a short temper and hard head, it didn't make sense for him to "see the light" in one conversation.

The next was that even if it did build to a fight, I had zero scripted plans to what happened with the NPCs. This part felt good to watch play out. There was a psycho traveling with Tonk that was hired by him to help take Krusk back. When a fight did inevitably kick off he spooked the party with how hard he hit and instantly became the focus for them. He ended up blinded and having an all around bad time trying to hit anyone. He ended up knocked down, then back up on a 20 death save. But was ultimately killed. It was disappointing because he was such a badass that could have done a whole heck of a lot more damage if he wasn't blinded. But the party played well so...dead.

Darn spore druids! They have such good spells. Blindness/Deafness is seriously underrated. Art by /u/bramble_

But Tonk made it out alive. I was fully ready for him to be killed by Krusk this time around, but, instead when he was the only one left, the cleric, Eilenia, ended up casting "Calm Emotions" on him and Krusk. In the ensuing chaos of the Psycho (who's name was never revealed as Thamcey) getting back up, Tonk ran away.

So now he get's to come back at some point here with an even bigger group to fight once again! I'll have to think of something interesting at some point here. Or else it will just keep repeating where they meet while traveling, argue, fight, then Tonk leaves. And that will get boring of course. I believe Tonk's at first simple quest to bring his brother back will spiral a little. The people he will team up with the get what he wants. The things he will do. The favors he may need to repay. It gives me a lot of open doors. I am really glad this didn't end with him dying and I plan on sitting on this for a little bit.

Next along the road they had a wheel break on their cart. I thought this was going to be simple and they'd be able to put together a fix for it rather quickly. But turns out, they had literally nothing. Can kill someone in 500 different ways but the second it comes to fixing a wagon wheel they are totally out of their element!

Even better the loveable moron they'd been traveling with never even thought to carry a spare. Ahh gotta love intentionally dumb NPCS!

That's alright, I had a druid come and ask them to trade in order to repair it. With a nice winter coat given and some mushrooms that most of them except our druid thought were dangerous she helped out and went on her way.

I'm glad that the mushroom thing came out. I gave them those a good 8 sessions ago and they were convinced they could really hurt people with them. Turns out if you soak them in alcohol they cure poison and that's about it.

Our druid is a spore druid so any kind of mushroom knowledge I can throw his way is a good time. Though I haven't been able to center an entire plot point around it just yet!

I love moments like these as it lets me build the world out a little. I've had a lot of nomadic people just kinda traveling around. I don't want it to feel like everyone is locked down to cities. There are people all over just kinda..existing outside of towns.

Next up was them resting for the night. The Tabaxi opened up the jar of memories again and finally failed his wisdom ST. He is officially addicted to the jar of memories. I've got some thoughts on what that will be and as I have told him, it could be memories from the distant past, or maybe this is of someone living right now. Or maybe it was Embers in a past life. All of it is confusing for him and the mystery is drawing him in further. I think this week I plan on figuring out where that will go as to be prepared. And when a player is showing interest in something you considered a throwaway you can't just ignore that right?!

During the shift switch from watching for the night Eilenia pulled Embers aside and talked to him about how he felt killing the person Thamcey. It was a bit of a brutal death. They talked about morality and whether they SHOULD care when they take human life if it's "for the greater good or self defense". It wasn't an earth shattering conversation but I really loved it. I am trying to encourage those types of conversations so I plan on giving them inspiration for it. I'm really bad at doing that before the game.

On the Cleric's watch there was an encounter waiting for them.

3 Giant Boars with a twist! These were boars with mutations similar to stories they heard and a monster they fought around this area before. They know that this happens when an animal is subjected to the magic from Sun Gems. Rare and mysterious stones found mainly in the Burning Lands, they have recently been found useful for things like logging, as they increase an axes effectiveness. The party put a stop to one such operation and drove the man who ran it out of town.

So these boars are basically ooze monsters. I pumped up their stats a little and made them a CR5. The fight itself wasn't overly difficult. I had plenty of bad rolls and things just weren't hitting. I don't plan on making sweeping changes but it seems as though a +6 to hit is just a little too low at their current level.

But it did open up questions which was what I liked about the encounter. They assumed, or hoped at least, that cutting off the source of the damage, the logging, was enough to stop creatures like this from forming. But now there are more, pretty far South of where they found them, and still causing issues.

All of my best ideas are honestly just stolen from anime. But man does it help with the descriptions!

I'm not sure if they will do much about this if I am being honest. It's not really their job to go out and kill every last one of these creatures. But I like to think this is a set up for something the town is now dealing with. Bounties out on any of these creatures maybe. Someone studying why it's happening. Figuring out if it's from the same source or something different. Ton's of questions for the town to deal with. And hopefully some strong adventurers can help out!

Well that's all for this installment. This session turned out to be weighted towards combat. I think my main takeaways were more around building out what players are interested in and working towards some fun choices in the future. Next week may see a break on so much fighting though. There's plenty to do on the road that doesn't involve killing!