AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming Thread: Carnival of Shadows, Episode 9

Welcome back to the weekly D&D and Tabletop Gaming thread!  Here’s a place where we can talk about Dungeons & Dragons or any other tabletop games that you nerds might be into.  Tell us about the games you’re playing, speculate about future expansions, recruit your fellow Avocados into new groups, whatever you want.

As promised, this week’s topic for discussion is the Shadow Sorcerer.  These Sorcerers tap into the magic of the Shadowfell, a plane of darkness and undead. shadowsorc Contact with the Shadowfell casts a strange pall over your physical body, resulting in an abnormally slow heartbeat, or icy cold skin, or propensity to not blink.1

Starting at level 1, your connection to the Shadowfell gives you Eyes of the Dark.  You have darkvision to range of 120 feet (twice the normal range of darkvision granted by most races with the ability).  In addition, when you reach level 3, you learn the Darkness spell and can choose to cast it using your sorcery points instead of a spell slot.  If you do use sorcery points, you can see through the darkness created by the spell.

Also at level 1, your Strength of the Grave makes you more difficult to defeat.  When you’re reduced to zero hit points, you can make a CON save, with a DC equal to 5 plus the amount of damage taken, to drop to 1 hit point instead.  You can only use this feature once per long rest, and it does not work if the damage taken is radiant type, or if it comes from a critical hit.

When you reach level 6, you can summon a Hound of Ill Omen by spending 3 sorcery points as a bonus action.  The shadowy creature has similar stats to a dire wolf, and is targeted at an enemy you choose.  The hound automatically knows the target’s location, even if the target is hidden.  On its turn, the hound moves toward the target by the shortest route possible (even moving through solid objects) and attacks.  While the hound is in melee range with the target, that creature has disadvantage on any saving throws against your spells.  The hound disappears after 5 minutes, or if either it or its target are reduced to zero hit points.

Ay level 14, you gain the ability to Shadow Walk.  You can use a bonus action to teleport from one area of dim light or darkness to another space in dim light or darkness within 120 feet of you.

Finally at 18th level, you learn to transform your body to an Umbral Form.  You use your bonus action and 6 sorcery points to make this transformation, which grants you resistance to all damage types except force and radiant and allows you to move through solid objects.  The effect lasts for 1 minute, or until you are incapacitated or killed.

This week, we returned to the world of Eberron, where The Hayes Code is running a homebrew campaign for us.  We’re playing as members of a traveling carnival, who are also known to do a little investigation or espionage work on the side.

Cast of Characters

  • Tinka, the Warforged Battlesmith Artificer, who performs tricks with the mechanical animals she creates (The Wasp)
  • Wind Over Sand, a Tabaxi Open Hand Monk and contortionist (Wafflicious)
  • Clo Fullia, a Shifter Battle Master Fighter, a bearded lady who also has a tendency to shift into strange beasts (Otto)
  • Tano Lyrimasyl, a blade-juggling Elven Bard of the College of Swords (TheCleverGuy)
  • The Shill, a Changeling Trickery Cleric who works the crowd looking for easy marks for the rest of the carnies (Josephus Brown)
  • Annabelle and Shirley Fredricks, conjoined twins, one of whom is a Human Divination Wizard (Spiny Creature)

Alistair's End

2After discovering the wooden carvings of the Montros family, and realizing that destroying the carvings would not be easy or quick, we decided to continue searching the manor for a means of removing the Montros ghosts from the equation before confronting Alistair himself.  I suggested starting with the bathroom off of Elaine’s room, where we could hear something thumping around in the privy.  Tinka took a peak inside, and found it was only a family of frogs that taken up residence there.  Luckily the privy itself hadn’t actually been used in quite some time.  Tinka lowered a bucket down to catch some of the frogs.  I believe she wanted to train some of them for a new act at the Carnival.  And Wind just wanted one as a pet.  Anyway, as Tinka lifted out a bucketful of frogs, we also discovered a rusty key. Tinka cleaned it off and Wind tried to sneak back into the girl’s room to see if the key would fit in a locked drawer we’d found there.  Wind tripped on something though, and woke up the sleeping ghost again–luckily she was able to provide enough of a distraction for Shill to use the key, which did indeed open the desk drawer.  Inside, Shill found a fancy moonstone necklace and a handful of gold coins.

We continued on to meet Edmund Montros in his trophy room, where he was busily cleaning a hunting rifle as spectral as he was.  We attempted to convince him that the butler had murdered him and his whole family, but Mr. Montros didn’t even seem to believe he was dead.  Even when I put my hand through his ghostly form, the man insisted that I was the one who was incorporeal.  We had similar luck with Virginia Montros, who we found sitting on a non-existant rocking chair in her solar.  It was a bit maddening!  We did get one useful piece of information from the lord and lady of the house–the last thing they remembered was calling on Alistair to bring their dinner, but the butler appeared carrying only a rune-covered carving knife.  We deduced that this was the murder weapon, and that it might have had something to do with how Alistair had bound these spirits.  Mrs. Montros seemed to remember Alistair dropping the knife in the master bedroom, but also warned us that she had seen a rather large spider in there, as big as her thumb!

It came as no surprise that the door to the bedroom was covered in spider webs, though of course Mrs. Montros didn’t seem to notice as she led us down the hall.  We prepared ourselves and opened the door.  Inside the bedroom, there was a large bed, covered in blood stains, and a pile of corpses of various people and animals, some of which were spilling through a hole in the floor that led down to the music room on the floor below.  There were also a handful of giant spiders and a few ettercaps, Ettercapfeasting on the dead bodies. I reached into my Bag of Tricks and tossed a black bear right on top of the bloody bed, as the giant spiders started rushing out of the room into the hallway.  I was hoping that bear would keep the ettercaps occupied for a bit, and maybe even take one of them down, while we dealt with the spiders first.  It almost worked–the bear didn’t deal any damage, but one of the ettercaps attacked it first instead of us. The poor bear didn’t last very long, I’m afraid.  While the rest of the group battled spiders in the hall, Clo and an ettercap were blocking the door to the room–which actually helped out a little.  I was able to cast a Hypnotic Pattern into the room, avoiding all of my friends and completely incapacitating two of the three ettercaps and one spider that hadn’t quite made it out to hallway yet.  Wind and the twins were bitten by the spiders and poisoned, but we were able to kill them all without too much trouble.  Shill’s spiritual weapon took the form of a rolled-up broadsheet, which they used to squash a few of the giant spiders, and Wind was able to take out a few more even while fighting off the effects of their poisonous bites.  Then we moved on to taking out the ettercaps, one by one.  Each of the hypnotized creatures would snap out of their stupor after being hit, but with the rest still stunned, it didn’t take long to finish off the monsters.

With that taken care of, we set to searching the room and quickly found the discarded rune-covered knife.  I also discovered some hand-written notes in a butler’s closet, that detailed how the knife was used to kill a person and bind their spirit to an effigy.  The notes seemed to indicate that if we simply removed the effigies from the house, the ghosts should fade away in time.  I suggested tossing them out the nearest window and waiting, but Shill had another idea.  They transformed so that they looked like Elaine Montros, took the knife and ran to Edmund and Virginia, screaming that the butler had tried to murder her.

This finally got a reaction other than befuddled amusement out of the Montroses, and Edmund confronted his butler at once.  The spectral Alistair denied everything of course, and went to retrieve his carvings, which would have given some control of the other spirits in the house.  Too bad for him, we’d been holding onto the statues for safe keeping.  Edmund reached for his ghostly rifle and shot Alistair, who disappeared along with the wards he’d placed over the dining room.  This is a good lesson–if you’re ever confronted with more than one ghost, try to turn them against each other.  I didn’t know one ghost could destroy another like that, but it was much easier than fighting him ourselves.

With Alistair no more, we were able to access to Alistair’s inner sanctum.  We found a group of skeletons arranged around a dining table, clearly meant to represent the six of us.  One skeleton had feline features (Wind), one actually appeared to be made of metal (Tinka), another was actually two skeletons joined at the hip (Annabelle and Shirley), etc.  Upon closer inspection, all of these skeletons turned out to be plaster models, with one exception.  At the head of the table were the actual physical remains of Alistair himself.  The Shill decided to animated the butler’s bones, and we left the mansion to camp outside before heading back to town, bringing the wooden carvings, the knife, and Alistair’s notes with us. With the effigies out of the house, the Montros family faded out of existence by morning.

On our way back to town with our dryad guide, we passed the same sleeping giant we’d avoided on trip to the mansion.  We decided to have a quick look inside the giant’s bag on a whim, and with a blessing from Shill’s god, I was able to sneak up and ransack the bag without being noticed.  There wasn’t too much of interest–mostly rocks and furs.  I did find a large framed painting that Clo took a liking to, and a pixie trapped in a jar.  Pixie_5e_mmWe freed and befriended the pixie, and were invited to visit the pixie village in the forest.  We made some plans to visit in the future, but first we needed to report back to town.

The oneiromancer, Dr. Pelling, had promised a reward for information about the Montroses.  We presented her with all of Alistair’s material–the knife, carvings, notes–as well the remains of Alistair himself (which Shill was reluctant to give up, though they eventually realized it’d be too costly to maintain a skeleton for very long).  Dr Pelling paid us handsomely, for a total of 1300 gold.