Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fires over Brinestump, The Beasts of the Bog

A = Old Fish Trail; E = Soggy River Bridges; G = Walthus Proudstump's Cottage

After the party decides to venture into the Brinestump Swamp to pursue the psychotic and firework-armed Licktoad goblins, they spend some time buying supplies and investigating their rumors, including interviewing fisherman Thomas Bain about his recent encounter with the cryptid Soggy River Monster (see Rumors and In Character Knowledge in last week's Behind the Screen).

Brinestump's infamous Soggy River Monster
Into the Swamp

  • Even the party's scout, Rillka, hasn't spent much time in the Brinestump. Though she knows that the Licktoad tribe lives there, she doesn't know the location of their settlement.
    • Rillka suggests they visit her "friend" Walthus Proudstump (see Rumors link above).
  • The party eases their way through the swamp along the Old Fish Trail, their imaginations fueled by Thomas' horrifying and alcohol-addled description of the Soggy River Monster.
  • The party's paranoia causes them to watch every step of their journey to Proudstump's.
    • Noises in the distance, the waxing and waning din of swamp sounds, and bizarre scents on the wind raise their anxiety.
    • They carefully cross two bridges on the way to Walthus', but the third and final bridge is washed out.
  • Rillka locates a tree fallen across the river to use as a ford.
    • Antax and Adrezi swim across just upriver of the log.
  • When Rillka crosses, a pair of pasty white, three-fingered hands reach out of the water and pull her under.
    • Rillka barely frees herself from the creature's grip and crawls onto the log to catch her breath.
    • Antax lets the current carry him into the creature and attacks.
    • Locke drinks a feral mutagen and dives in to help.
      • Since no one knew Locke could transform, Antax nearly attacks her.
      Paz confronting Locke's feral mutation while
      Rillka examines the Soggy River Monster's corpse
    • Paz summons one of his celestial pack to help.
  • Antax is severely bitten by the creature.
    • Anger, fear and rage at the treatment he's experienced his entire life well up uncontrolled.
  • The Soggy River Monster is quickly bloodied by the melee attacks of Locke and Antax, as well as Rillka's well-placed sling bullets.
    • Monster dives under the water to escape.
    • Unknown to the party, the move action causes the monster to bleed out. Its body is being carried downstream underwater.
  • Paz makes a desperate plea to a celestial dolphin he met on his last psychic journey to Nirvana.
    • The dolphin locates the monster's body and the party drags it on shore.
    • Failed arcana, religion, local, nature, and history checks mean the party has no idea what it is.
      • Locke takes samples, disturbing Paz who knew her as a kid.
    • Party decides to drag the monster to Walthus' house to see if the Warden of the Brinestump has any idea what it could be.

Home Sweet Home
  • Walthus doesn't answer Rillka's repeated knocks and calls, so she picks the lock, worried.
    • Walthus bars the door and screams nervously at her "What do you want? Who are you?"
      • The PCs had the curtesy to leave the Soggy
        River Monster's corpse outside.
      • Since Rillka has a history with Walthus, his behavior is particularly odd.
  • Paz and Rillka eventually convince Walthus to let them in.
  • Paz asks him about goblins, which makes him more nervous.
    • Rillka notices that Walthus is terrified of Antax. Though not uncommon for normal people, his passion for snakes should have the opposite effect on him.
    • Paz casts message and asks Walthus if someone else is in the house, or if he's in danger. Walthus freaks out more at the voice in his ear.
  • Walthus tries to calm himself, then insists the group sits at the dining table while he gets them tea from the kitchen.
    • Most of the party complies.
    • Rillka examines the room and notices blood on the hallway floor.
    • Walthus emerges from the back to see Rillka in the hallway. When she confronts him about the blood and his odd behavior, the skin on the halfling's face starts to slip down his skull.
      • Rillka pauses, horrified (rolls low Initiative).
      • Walthus gargles out a scream then pounces 15ft across the room to attack her!
  • Walthus grapples Rillka then shoots a needle-like tongue into her neck. Rillka watches in horror as her own blood is sucked up the translucent tongue into Walthus' sagging maw.
    • Paz casts grease on the hallway.
      • Both Walthus and Rillka fall, but the grease gives Rillka the advantage she needs to slip out of the creature's grasp.
    • Rillka dives out of the way as Locke throws alchemist's fire at the creature, igniting it and the grease-covered hallway.
  • Now on fire, "Walthus" crashes through the back door to escape, his skin boiling as he runs.
    • Now convinced this thing is not the Walthus she knew, Rillka nails the creature with a sling bullet to the back of the head, killing it.

During the fight, Paz's eidelon, Adrezi, tracks the scent of the real Walthus to a secret room under the kitchen.
Adrezi, Locke and Rillka rescue Walthus
Rillka holds the severely wounded halfling's head in her lap as Locke administers a potion of cure light wounds. Walthus' eyelids flutter open and he smiles at the sight of Rillka's face. "I'm in Heaven," he says before passing out again.

Assured by Rillka that this is the real Walthus, the group nurses him back to consciousness. Walthus tells them that the creature that attacked him is called a facestealer, a race of twisted beings left over from the Azlanti/Aboleth wars. Walthus gives Rillka his slightly smelly but very lucky cloak as thanks. In addition, he will take them to the goblin village in his boat. He doesn't know what the Soggy River Monster is, but is glad its dead.

The group takes the head of the S.R.M. and burns both bodies (after Locke takes more samples, of course) before resting for the night.

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