Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Campaign Ups and Downs

Last night's session was a bit of a mixed bag. Jonathan brought in his third replacement PC. I'm starting to believe that he plays a character until he has proven to himself that the stats he's assembled can break the campaign in half, then he moves on to an equally system-straining character. I will give Jonathan credit for his kung fu showdown with one of the Serene Magma Buddhas. By proving his martial arts credentials he allowed the party avoid a general melee with all five of the Buddhas. That would have been a hell of a fight, as the Five Serene Magma Buddhas were built as 20th level Lava Children Monks with Vows of Poverty. I first read about Lava Children in the original Fiend Folio, they're these weird elemental guys who are completely immune to metal. Swords and stuff pass harmlessly through them.

The real fight of the night was against 4 Lava Golems and a pair of Lavawights. The Lava Golems were built starting with the Lead Golem from (IIRC) Tome of Horrors, advancing it 5 hit dice and adding the Elemental (fire) template from AEG's Monster's Handbook. I like the Lead Golem because it's attack is 4d12+Str bonus of "pulverizing fist". How can you not like that? The Lavawight is a creature from the Epic Level Handbook. The 3.5 stats for it can be found in the SRD. Here's the thing that makes an encounter with a Lava Wight particularly memorable:
Blazefire (Su): Living creatures taking damage from a lavawight’s attack find themselves ignited with blaze-fire; they must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 35) or permanently lose 4 hit points. The DC is Charisma-based. The opponent must continue to save every round for the next 6 rounds (7 rounds total) to avoid being permanently drained of 4 more hit points each round. The lavawight heals the same amount of damage whenever a creature is drained of hit points, gaining any excess as temporary hit points. These temporary hit points last a maximum of 1 hour. If an opponent is slain by blazefire, only blackened ash remains of the victim. Hit points lost to the blazefire never heal naturally and cannot be magically restored—they are gone for good.
That's pretty harsh stuff. Doug's PC Angus the Half-orc permanently lost 16 hit points due to blazefire. Folks around the table discussed the possibility of using wish or miracle to restore the hit points, but in retrospect those spells already existed when the Lavawight was written and yet they are not mentioned as possible cures. Looks like the intent was that nothing can bring those hit points back. (BTW, the Blazefire quote above is from the The Hypertext d20 SRD, an absolutely wonderful reference site.)

Members of my group has been gaga the last few weeks over the new Wizard's book Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. A copy was passed back and forth last night. We discussed using Nine Swords in an Eberron game, possibly as the next big campaign we play. I haven't read it yet, but since it bears the name of Mike Mearls, our group's patron saint, it ought to be loaded with awesome. Doug held up a copy opened to this illustration. Everyone at the table was all "Hey! The Caves of Chaos! How cool is that!" Well, everybody except Jonathan. We had to explain the Caves of Chaos to this young whippersnapper. Now I can't make up my mind whether for our next campaign to once again dust off B2 The Keep on the Borderlands or to buy 0one Roleplaying Games's Caverns of Chaos map and stock it myself. Both options have their advantages. I'm not sure I could capture all of Gygax's finer touches stocking the Caverns, but it would allow me to put a lot more of my own twist on things.