Spoiler alert: if you plan to play The Evils of Illmire, don’t read this!
Last session ended with the PCs at a junction in the underwater Prismatic Grottoes of the Fishmen. They’d just killed (some would say murdered) a band of Fishmen guards and had to decide whether to head south or west. Both passageways ascended, the one to the south more quickly, and moving figures could be seen that way.
Sensibly they decided to scout out each route, so Kristos attempted to sneak to the southern passage to see what was down there. Turns out a room full of 15 or so Fishmen who spot the less than sneaky thief (what do you expect popping your head up out of the water). This changes everything, so with that Kristos retreats to the party and they form a defensive line between two pillars, deciding fleeing might not be a good idea.
The Fishmen climb into the water and hesitated to attack the party; perhaps they wanted to parley? But why wait to find out, when you can attack which our heroes did with aplomb (and not necessarily a great deal of success). Evalore’s sleep spell only took two of them out, and then a strange aquatic melee followed as the Fishmen closed in with first Kristos, Oak Staff and then Gravik taken out of the fight (these Fishmen are tougher than they look!) Evalore scrambled around trying to stabilise them while Anistor did his best to hold the cod-like marauders off, but alas it was too much for the doughty fighter and he too succumbed to his wounds. At various points throughout the fight the Fishmen had tried to communicate that the party should throw down their weapons; now in a dire situation Evalore had no choice but to do that…
And so we ended the session there, not knowing the fate of the party. But I didn’t want to wait a full week to find out and spend the next session rolling up new characters. Instead I decided to try a bit of PBM through Twitter (arguably not the best platform for it); I thought if the party died here we could create new PCs ahead of the next game and have a full session of play. So the story continues…
Dragged into a cavern and tightly bound the party were sitting or lying in a circle. The room they were in had two altars, both with divots in their centre; this room was drier than the others they had been in down here, but it still stank and they were cold and soaked. If the Fishmen didn’t kill them, hypothermia might. There were four attentive guards in this room, while in the further room the Fishmen leader conferred with his fellows, and a short while later two of them left the cavern.
Realising they had to act, a distraction was created by Anistor, replaying his mad granny’s painful rant about putting cherries in fruit cake (family is important to him), allowing Kristos to slip his bonds with some ease and also free Evalore. Three of the Fishmen guards are drawn to Anistor’s mad rambling, but one remains focused and alert and so Evalore throws pebbles into the water at the mouth of the cave to distract it. The magic user is able to scuttle forward and retrieve the red and blue pearls and the tablet from the backpacks without being seen. It seems the plan is to place the pearls in the two divots.
Gravik tries to create a further distraction by flopping about like a fish, teasing them, while Evalore runs to the altars. The mage manages to fit the red pearl into one divot, but drops the other pearl and it rolls towards the guards… fortunately the dwarf is on hand to kick it back to Evalore which he does with some skill. The two pearls now placed in the divots emit a watery light which crosses at a point on the wall illuminating a rune with purple light. The four guards approach the altar and drop to their knees in reverence; this is an important, spiritual moment in their lives.
Suddenly a spray of caustic liquid jets from the altars covering both Evalore and the Fishmen and the damage is substantial (apparently purple light isn’t a good thing). This is enough to take out the four Fishmen, but not the mage. The remaining Fishmen in the other room see this and overawed, their morale breaks and they flee into the water. If our party want to escape, now looks like the time to do it… We’ll pick up next session back in the somewhat more Prismatic Grottoes.
I was quite pleased to be able to run a PBM experiment, it felt like a nice way to resolve this encounter and gave me just a little insight into what may be involved in running a PBM game. I have the kernel of a thought of a suggestion of an idea to run a full on PBM game next year, but I may do a few more experiments before then…