AAR: The Terrors of Illmire

25 Mar, 2021, updated 25 Mar, 2021 evils of illmire 5e fvtt

We continue the tales of the Evils of Illmire. And what I’ve learned while running it.

The party start in the sunken Bastion, keeping a Black Skeleton Turned at bay while they rob his throne room. They then have a short rest, and explore the room unlocked by the key on the Skeleton’s belt. Some normal skeletons provide no trouble, but the Wraith they unleash from the cell is much more of a problem, especially when it starts raising the freshly interred skeletons as Spectres. This was a long hard fight, and very nearly ended badly.

The players very carefully inspected the remains of the corpse from which the wraith had issued, took its gecko pendant and rummaged around the Gecko Pit, before departing the Bastion via a sinkhole. Lots of loot captured, but the one-handed ranger isn’t strong enough to use a +2 sword (and don’t tell him about the +2 longbow they almost found, couldn’t have used that either).

They then “charmed” some local gecko farmers by insulting their food, but some generous bribes got rations for them to get them home. Or at least, somewhere, they immediately got lost (failed Survival roll), and into the path of a Dire Grizzly.

Tactical top down map, showing players being chased by a bear with glowing eyes.  There is a blood trail from the players
The evidence of plan A is the blood

It was hungry, and turned out to be incredibly strong, so they exercised Plan B and ran away. They had to drop a lot of food to distract the grizzly long enough to hide their tracks in a stream. In the dark, and unfamiliar terrain, with a prowling (slightly less) hungry bear, they repaired to the nearby mining village of Copperclaw.

They then scared the shit out of themselves and left as soon as it was light. The town is abandoned but they saw a light on in one house at the top of the ravine and they left!!

Back in Illmire, everyone is terrified. Of everything, including the players, that they’d been told were dead by the (turns out to be evil) cult. The crew decide not to wait to be murdered in their beds, and proceed to sneak into the church

Tactical top down map of a church
So far, so good?

Lessons

Well, quite a few things in this.

  1. Turns out I didn’t check my party’s characters, and the Cleric was missing most of his spells and rituals. The player had added the domain spells but not picked rituals or normal spellcasting. No wonder he seemed underpowered! A disadvantage of 5e I think, it’s easy to make this mistake, even using D&D Beyond.
  2. In an effort to provide some variety in enemies, I’ve started drifting up in difficulty. I’ve solved this by levelling up the players. I had originally assumed this would all take place at lvl 3 but this game has continued longer than I’d expected 😁
  3. The party couldn’t work out how to get out of the Sunken Bastion. As written, they’re basically trapped “for ever”, the doors aren’t supposed to open again. I added a sinkhole and some draughts to have a breeze to follow. Unfortunately the players did not search where I’d put the breeze! MULTIPLE CLUES ARE NEEDED 😖
  4. For the bear, I tried using the wilderness chase rules from the 5e DMG. These are basically “roll to save from complications each turn”. I don’t know if I used them too much but what was supposed to be a quick bit of flavour felt a bit sluggish. However I think the chase complications tables could be good in moderation.

This is summarising four sessions of 2h of play. We’re now splitting our time into “chat” and “game” which I’m finding helpful to keeping on track. I’ve started using the ‘d30 Sandbox Companion’, which has some great tables including:

Foundry tweaks

Grouping initiative by monster type is great, much more efficient. I tweaked the Next Up module and it’s doing well for reminding everyone where they are and even where they started their turns. However, we’ve started having problems with tokens being locked in place. As that’s a feature (when it works) of Next Up, next session will be without it. I’ve also turned off a bunch of other things as well, in case that makes a difference.

Still struggling with ambient audio in Foundry. It worked for one session absolutely fine, having tried Firefox. But not any more 😭.

Maybe the 0.8 series of Foundry will help, I understand there’s audio changes coming. Long wait for it to be stable though.

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