Posted on March 4, 2011
The Acts of the Lords of Rannick, X
Last night spent a lot of time dealing with Illusion. Illusions are one of those things that never seems to work right in D&D, because it is almost impossible not to react to what other people are doing and being told. To everyone’s credit, they played it well, I thought.
I think it used to be that you could try and “disbelieve” the illusion, which is stupid. Walk out into traffic and try to disbelieve a car out of existence – you wouldn’t right, because everything you knew and perceived would tell you that this would be a stupid idea. Illusions change what you perceive – you don’t even get the luxury of knowing that you are on a holodeck. (I think that’s maybe why I’m glad that there aren’t too many illusions in the Adventure Path so far… because it would start getting all holodeck-y. Presumably, that is what life is like for Illusionists – less David Copperfield, more Jonathan Frakes. shudder.)
The rules for Illusions are:
Creatures encountering an illusion usually do not receive saving throws to recognize it as illusory until they study it carefully or interact with it in some fashion. (The players got a saving throw when they entered the glade because they were particularly examining the glade for the presence of the Druid. If they hadn’t been expecting him, they would have la-la-la’d through the glade.)
A successful saving throw against an illusion reveals it to be false, but a figment or phantasm remains as a translucent outline.
A failed saving throw indicates that a character fails to notice something is amiss. A character faced with proof that an illusion isn’t real needs no saving throw. (I.e. walking straight into a wall that was made to look like an empty grassy lawn). If any viewer successfully disbelieves an illusion and communicates this fact to others, each such viewer gains a saving throw with a +4 bonus. (This should really help, but last night Corwyn’s insistence that other stuff was there largely fell on the deaf ears caused by awful rolls. Plus, to be fair, that was a very powerful illusion.)
Anyway, on with the story…
Over there in the mist to …over here in the mist; Angry trees aren’t something to fuck around with.
The Treant had suddenly turned belligerent after sharing his tree-booze with the party. Activating two nearby trees into crushing towers of woody death, he started lashing out at those standing close to him. It should be no real surprise that being hit by a tree hurts a lot. And it hurt pretty much everyone unconscious and dying with the exception of Torgor. I think every one else was sent to the long dark tunnel by the trees. However, the Treant went back and forth between being drunkenly confused, drunkenly distracted and drunkenly battering meat bags. So Torgor was able to start retrieving his fallen friends from the Treants long enough to start getting them healed. Dagfinn had managed to set the Treant on fire, and this seemed to occupy him when he wasn’t actively trying to mulch them.
Albedon Dimension Door-ed away with a fallen Dagfinn and at a safe distance the party regrouped, albeit without Arradin and Badonk, who had vanished into the mist with all of the useful magic stuff they’d received last session. Actually, Arradin has wandered off with a small fortune… maybe she’s had enough. The Treant started to stomp off in another direction and everyone stayed put until they had. Then they continued on their way to try and find Devarre.
Excitingly, the we had our first Wandering Monster roll. Actually, Wandering Into An Encounter of some sort roll. Corwyn, acting as point man, fell 30′ into a pit trap, but wasn’t too shaken up and was hauled out by Dagfinn.
They arrived at the clearing that Fira the Dryad had described, a perfectly round hillock, clear of trees and also any of the mist that was choking the rest of the forest. Other than that, there didn’t seem to be anything, so the adventurers moved in to investigate the place. All except Corwyn, who saw revealed in the glade a small lodge, a garden of herbs and three monoliths atop the hillock positively crackling with magical energy. Once he told everyone this… they all thought he was nuts. Except Dagfinn, who could now see it too, if he concentrated for a second or two. Kerplak clambered to the top of the hill while Dagfinn and Corwyn headed to the lodge. Lonny, Torgor and Albedon wandered around, not quite knowing what was going on. Interestingly, Percy, Albedon’s familiar, could see through the illusion and narrated the whole thing to Albedon… didn’t help though.
At the lodge, Corwyn and Dagfinn tried yelling for the druid but to no avail. Corwyn eventually just went in, to find an old man sitting at a table. The old man looked like a druid, but listened like a doorpost. After a few rounds of yelling at each other Corwyn and Devarre were able to establish that there was something going on and they’d like to speak to him about it. The druid’s reactions were slow, with slight stutters and twitches; Corwyn and Dagfinn began to get a bit suspicious. Somehow – and I honestly can’t remember how – Corwyn thought it would be a good idea to go outside to the river with the druid. At which point, he shoved the old man in the water. That tore it.
The Druid cast Heat Metal on Dagfinn, hoping to roast him inside his own chain shirt. Remarkably however, Dagfinn passed a Will save. There is a first time for everything, I suppose, but it was even more remarkable because Dagfinn is still wisdom-impaired from the Treant booze. We should have been treated to Bard Brulee, but Dagfinn just shrugged the spell off.
While this was going on, and Albedon and Torgor were watching Corwyn and Dagfinn pantomime some kind of struggle at the edge of the water, Lonny and Kerplak had discovered the druid’s lodge. With their faces. They’d walked right into what appeared to be a flat, grassy area, but turned out to be a pretty solid wooden wall. Brought to their senses they rushed around to the river bank.
The druid lashed out with his scimitar, catching Dagfinn a few times and leaving frost-rimed slashes across his chest. Corwyn stumbled on the wet rocks and ended up driving his spear into the riverbed, shattering its haft. No one was having a whole lot of luck damaging the druid, but Lonny took a different tack – now that he could see the old duffer, he cast Hold Person on him. It wasn’t terribly likely to work as Druids tend to have good Will saves, but it did. The druid froze in place and a moment later an eerie burst of pale blue light illuminated the druid’s head. Speeding away across the river, a ball of pale light reached the edge of the mist and disappeared into it. Albedon correctly identified it as a Will O’ the Wisp, although in all his many years of learning he had never heard of one possessing a man before.
Lonny dropped the Hold Person and Devarre became mobile but very confused. He appeared to have lost a considerable amount of time and wasn’t sure what was going on at all. When the Dagfinn and Lonny relayed that Spriggans had overrun the forest and Dryad grove at the behest of Queen Rhoswen, Devarre looked particularly worried. He did his best to explain what he knew of Queen Rhoswen’s history. But first, he downed a potion of lesser restoration and gave Dagfinn one too, so that they could heal their Wisdom damage: shit was about to get metaphysical.
Devarre explained that Rhoswen was a powerful magic user who began to blend the magic of the Fey with the magic of the plane of Shadow. This was many thousands of years ago, when the Fey were more active and powerful. The Fey Court took action against her, sealing off her realm from the Material, Fey and Shadow planes with the use of standing stones (such as the set on the round hill above the lodge). This created a self-contained realm, a pocket world. You could walk across it in a few days and find yourself exactly where you started from.
The Fey weren’t done though. So that Rhoswen and her followers couldn’t escape this prison realm, they built a ring of stones called the Faengard around the border of Rhoswen’s lands. These stones trapped the inhabitants of the pocket realm and prevented them from leaving. To touch the stones would cause them great pain. After constructing the “lock” of the Faengard, they then decided on a “Key”, Rhoswen’s own staff. The more she used the staff, the more powerful the Faengard became, the more she became trapped. If she continued with her use of blended Fey and Shadow magic, she’d only strengthen her prison; she’d be powerful, yes, but only in a completely impotent way. The fey are kind of like that, looking for the irony in everything; they’re fantasy hipsters.
Devarre guessed that in some way the Faengard had failed. As he understood it, the stones should cause a great deal of damage to those of Rhoswen’s realm, so he thought it unlikely that they’d be able to move the stones. He assumes that somehow someone else was able to move the stones. When Dagfinn suggested Tenzekil, the bleached gnome, Devarre thought that made sense.
Devarre offered his lodge as a place to rest and as the party relaxed in safety for a while, he communed with nature, assessing the state of the forest around him. When he was done he declared that he was going to go and find the friendly forces of the local fey after he had buried his animal companion that the Will O’ the Wisp had tricked him into starving to death. Will O’ the Wisps are dicks, srsly. He also told the party that he’d located the source of the mist – a pool below the waterfall known as Dead Man’s Drop. He wasn’t sure what was causing it, but he thought that the Spriggans may be using the mist and bramble growths to conceal their movements.
So with that information, our heroes prepared to trek on to Dead Man’s Drop.