2008-04-14 Astersyn and Tornulis

The transmuter Tornulis is defeated, the brooch is retrieved, and the constructs are used to defeat the mad dragon Astersyn. I had to shortcut some planning and perhaps there was a bit too many unrecognized in-game riddles at the end.

Tornulis proved to be an easy fight. Fäm saved both against Desintegrate and Balefull Polymorph and grappled and pinned her before she could activate her Hand of the Theurge. She was an easy prey now for Kubo San… Her shield guardian was of no help and soon controlled using the brooch.

In her lair, the party theurge got stung by her trapped spellbook, made both saves and survived the 1d6/2d6 Con damage poison – plus it’s always good to have Con 17. :)

The party figured out that they needed to get rid of the dragon. They didn’t know how to bypass the dragon and earlier efforts at parley had failed due to miserable Diplomacy checks (even though the party theurge doesn’t wear the dragonmark). So using Invisibility and Fly the brooch wielder orchestrated an attack of all the constructs on the dragon. There was a lot of planning. So much in fact that I decided to just skip ahead. “Ok guys, let’s just assume that it works. The dragon falls to its death. What next?”

I need to work on pacing some more. My general problem is players that are unsure of what to do and want to get it “right”. Unfortunately for all of us, this runs into the law of ever diminishing returns. More planning doesn’t always improve the plan.

Generally speaking I’ve identified these problems:

  1. Overplanning. My solution is an internal boredom time-out. This is not a cool solution because it kicks in when it is too late – I am already bored and most probably other people are bored, too. Maybe using a real countdown like “five minutes of planning and then we roll with it!” would work.
  2. Overspeculating. My solution is an internal impatience time-out. It works quite well. I will get impatient, summarize the situation, and point out that this is the info they have, and no amount of talking will provide more information. So it’s either A, B, C, or D.

I’m quite happy with this last point. I’ll say: “Ok, there’s a mad dragon at 1000 ft. guarding a passage. There’s another hole at about 800 ft. You know there’s a cavern – probably a sacrifice thing and thus probably quite dangerous – at the end of the tunnel. You’ve thoroughly searched the green dragon sacrifice place. That leaves two options: Examine the tunnel again, or investigate the hole at 800 ft. That’s it.”

When the party entered the “gauntlet” to face the challenges, there were some in-game riddles. I’m not sure the players enjoyed this part so much. Perhaps it wasn’t as heroic as a fight. As these riddles often require spells such as energy resistance, the danger was that the party would run out of the necessary spells. Having to rest and recover spells makes good reading in a book, but poor play at the table.

At the end of the session I decided to drop a hint: “When you rest and pick new spells, consider this: What kind of tests would you expect if only dragons are supposed to pass them?” We started categorizing what we had seen. There’s a strength tests. There’s a test for energy immunity. You need to fly. Saito suggested a breath attack and a fear effect… I’m not commenting on it.


Challenges overcome: Shield guardian CR 9, Tornulis the transmuter CR 11, bypassing the great wyrm bronze dragon without a direct fight CR 13.

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