The Stage is Set for an Epic Battle in Omu

Setting the Stage for a Grand Combat

Building from the previous session:

  • The warlock, as an eagle, carried a silenced rope kept close to the King of Feathers.
  • An aging (now hasted) Tabaxi, bent on a glorious death, lead the King of Feathers on.
  • A Tabaxi rogue/ranger nimble and fast, provided flanking support.
  • The sorcerer, barbarian, and cleric, followed several steps behind.

Random Tables

When you first lead the King of Feathers into the camp, roll…
d6 Result
1 1 round of inaction
2 2 rounds of inaction
3 3 rounds of inaction
4-6 Respond Quickly

I wanted to reflect that moment of confusion, when a large and silenced T-Rex charges into an encampment.

I told the players that each round there was a 50/50 chance that the rumblings of a nearby huge monster would wake any sleeping inhabitants.

The overall state of the camp
d20 Results
1 A wizard was out relieving themselves (and alert)
2 The wizards were in a meeting (in the same building)
3 A wizard is overseeing a dream spell
4 The guards on watch are instead gambling
5 The wizards are deep in a summoning ritual (and it won’t be long until it’s done)
6 The wizards just dealt with an incursion, roll 2d6 each, they each spent those spell slots; 1d6 veterans are bloodied.
7-20 The wizards were sleeping amongst their bone harem of their skeletons (they each get +2 cover bonus)

A camp of 20 or so humans has nighttime activity. I wanted to convey that reality, and not lay the conditions out ahead of time.

Players Roll

Since there were two groups of characters (those fast enough to lead the King of Feathers on, and those not) I had them roll to see how far the trailing group was behind the King of Feathers.

They rolled 1 round of inaction, that the guards were gambling, the faster barbarian would arrive at round 2, and the sorcerer and cleric would arrive at round 4. (They didn’t know but the veterans would awake at round 3).

I set up the location, and called for a group initiative. For initiative order for the combat  was: the players, King of Feathers, and the camp. (I had briefly thought of rolling group initiative each turn)

A combat map for a tabletop RPG, with dominos for buildings, dice for monsters, and other oddities

The Stage is Set for an Epic Battle in Omu

The Participants

  • Five 7th level PCs – a tabaxi ranger 4 /rogue 3; a half-elf cleric 1 / sorcerer 6; a human cleric 7 / a half-elf warlock 7; a dwarf barbarian 7
  • One Tabaxi Hunter, an ally of the PCs bent on a glorious death
  • Two 9th level Mages (CR 6)
  • One 11th level Mage (CR 7)
  • One flesh golem (CR 5)
  • Twelve veterans (CR 3)
  • Twelve skeletons (CR 1/2)
  • One King of Feathers (an augmented CR 9 T-Rex)

Everyone knew this was a dangerous gambit. Going into the session we all knew this would be an encounter that would require constant evaluation.

As I was preparing the situation, I kept thinking what are the likely responses of the players?

  • They’ll lead the King of Feathers into the camp and stand back to assess (and perhaps strike after any spells had worn out)
  • They’ll join with the King of Feathers and battle the camp
  • They’ll swoop in to help the camp, and ingratiate themselves with the wizards

When You Lead a T-Rex Into Battle…

The grand melee that ensued was among the most satisfying I’ve ever ran; Definitely the most satisfying I’ve run for 5e. But this post draws long, so I’ll save the report until next time.

Plan for Complications – Tomb of Annihilation

Random tables lead to creative solutions; or that time where they set in motion luring a silenced T-Rex into the camp of enemy wizards with whom they might soon form an alliance.

Large feathered T-Rex in jungle ruins

King of Feathers in Omu

Prior Sessions

Two sessions ago the characters had a harrowing three-way battle between a trio of ambushing assassin vines and a Red Wizard along with his cohort. The Red Wizard escaped and they spent the next session tracking him down, laying an ambush at the obelisk, and ultimately interrogating him (and throwing him to the conjured black tentacles).

The adventurers learned that the other three Red Wizards were to meet at the obelisk the next day. The adventurers weren’t able to tell if the captured wizard was lying, and set about crafting an ambush.

We ended that session with me saying – “Welp, I don’t know how this is going to go down, but I’ll write up some random procedures so that I lock in their actions while you discuss and work through yours.”

I created the procedures following:

Table 1: Are they coming tomorrow?
d6 Result
1-3 Yes, use the Arrival Times procedure to determine timing. Note: the arrival hour is the number of hours after sunrise.
4-6 No, roll on Table 2: So they’re not coming today

 

Table 2: So they’re not coming tomorrow…
d6 Result
1-2 But they’re coming today; use the Arrival Times procedure to determine timing. Note: the arrival hour is the number of hours since the initial ambush.
3-4 But the yuan-ti are laying are gathering around the players and laying an ambush
5-6 Because they caught wind of what’s happening and will instead send an emissary. Roll 1d6 to determine the hour of their arrival

Arrival Time Procedure

For each of the 3 Red Wizard groups roll a unique 1d6 (after all each group is different). The resulting die is their arrival hour. For any dice that turn up the same, roll those dice again.

  • If both are even or both are odd, they arrive together.
  • If the larger is even, they arrive that many rounds later.
  • If the larger number is odd, they arrive the product of those two dice minutes later.
  • If you rolled 3 dice, treat each even as the highest result of all odds and each odd as the highest result of all odds.

This Session

At the beginning of the session, I rolled on the tables. The result was the Wizards got wind of the ambush and were sending an emissary instead. Poor Trevor, the veteran waving the white flag; He came to realize that the Red Wizards, while paying generously, were holding his family as leverage.

The adventurers began setting up their ambush. Moving dirt, checking houses near the obelisk, and establishing a perimeter patrol.

Moon (the Tabaxi Ranger/Rogue) spotted a soldier approaching, flying a white flag. After a brief parlay, he brought Trevor (the soldier) to just outside the ambush spot. The offer at hand was that the adventurer’s join (and in some PC’s cases rejoin) the Red Wizard entourage. The pay was good and they looked after your family, according to Trevor. Moon countered saying that his family was leverage for compliance.

During the extended parlay with Trevor, the group worked out the following plan (mostly outside of earshot of Trevor, who was now ready to turn an eye on the Red Wizards but not actively work against them):

  • Twelve Moonshadow and Hooded Lantern would track the wizards to their encampment
  • Ord, X, Regina, and Kruxus Craft would begin resting to swap spells
  • Kruxus Craft would cast silence on 50’ of rope
  • Regina and Moon would go to the King of Feather’s lair, lure it out, and drop (via Mage Hand) the silent rope on the King
  • Moon would lead the King of Feathers towards the wizard encampment
  • As they drew near, Hooded Lantern seeking song worthy death would anchor the relay and lead the T-Rex into the encampment
  • A bit of mayhem later and the party would attack

Analysis and Behind the Screen

Planning can bog down a game. I employed a tactic early on saying “What I hear the plan to be right now is…”. This helped draw the group’s attention to the current shape of a discussed plan.

Early we all lamented the nerfed spell durations of 5e (compared to 2e especially); they are static and short. I made a table ruling. A character may expend a higher level slot to extend a spell’s duration:

  • 1 minute
  • 10 minute
  • 1 hour
  • 4 hours
  • 8 hours
  • 1 day
  • 1 week

Because short durations are lame when the plan is to silence a rampaging T-Rex to aid in the ambush of wizards. And yes, this may impose on a Sorcerer’s metamagic, but we’ll get to that if it ever comes up.

Back to the Session

The Red Wizards accepted the request of the for one day to think about it joining forces. And they could meet at a neutral place; the accepted recommendation was the prior wizard encampment in which the wizards and yuan-ti last fought.

What transpired:

  • While following to camp, each group rolled for random encounters – the wizards, the tabaxi PC and NPC, and the other group
  • A shambling mound attacked the Red Wizards, the advantage was the wizards, so I had the players roll some random dice to see if there were any fatalities (there weren’t and I should’ve clarified what the rolls were about)
  • No other random encounters
  • Moon, ever curious sneaked closer, but Zagmira spotted him
  • A quick roll of initiative and Moon bolted back into the jungle before Zagmira could unload
  • Moon and Hooded Lantern returned to camp
  • with a 4 hour silence dropped on a knot in the 50’ of rope, Moon and Regina left wrangle up the King of Feathers
  • At the amphitheatre, there were signs of the King of Feathers (only a 25% chance at night), but it was not there now
  • Invisible in the shadows Regina waited while 5 deinonychus came to prowl; afraid of drawing attention Regina dropped a major image to lure them away
  • Meanwhile Moon found the King of Feathers. With haste and agility he barely kept ahead of King of Feathers as he lured the mighty T-Rex towards a waiting Regina and the hanging collar/rope. (Without levels of rogue and ranger, Moon would not have kept ahead of the King of Feathers)
  • As the King of Feathers drew close, it noticed the invisible and skulking Regina
  • A quick roll of initiative and to Regina’s fortune she won.
  • Regina promptly changed into a large bird of prey and flew up. Grabbing the rope, Regina flew low to keep the King of Feather’s silent while Moon’s lead it through the jungle to the encampment
  • Moon succeeded at keeping ahead of the King of Feather’s and avoided picking up a level of exhaustion (DC 15) as they all approached the camp.

With time running short, and a massive battle looming, we called it a night.

This morning, I’m doing what I can to prepare the situation:

  • a marauding T-Rex perhaps in an area of silence
  • a polymorphed warlock carrying said silenced rope
  • a wizard encampment (3 Red Wizards, a Flesh Golem, 13 soldiers, 14 skeletons) that previously caught someone following them
  • an urban locale that is overrun by the encroaching jungle