AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming Thread: Carnival of Shadows, Episode 16

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.

Our discussion topic this week is a class I’m currently playing, the College of Swords Bard. Whereas most Bards are singers or musicians, the Swords Bard instead trains to perform using their blades. They are sword swallowers, knife throwers and jugglers, or performers in mock combats. They’re also highly skilled in using those blades in actual combat as well. Swords Bards are not afraid to get into melee with their enemies, and combined with their magical abilities, this makes them one of the more versatile classes.

This subclass gets most of it’s power right up front at 3rd level. When you choose this subclass, you gain proficiency with medium armor and the scimitar, as well as the ability to use your melee weapon as a focus for your spellcasting ability. You also get to choose a Fighting Style, either Dueling for a +2 damage bonus when using a single weapon, or Two-Weapon Fighting, which allows you to add your STR or DEX modifier to off-hand weapon attacks.

Also at 3rd level you learn to perform impressive Blade Flourishes with your attacks. Whenever you take the attack action, you gain an extra 10 feet of movement speed until the end of the turn. In addition, once per turn, when your attack hits you can expend one of your uses of Bardic Inspiration to increase the damage of your attack as well as add a secondary effect.

A Defensive Flourish allows you to roll your Bardic Inspiration die and add that number to both the damage of your attack and to your AC until the start of your next turn. Mobile Flourish lets you add damage to your attack, as well as push the target away from you 5 feet plus the number you rolled on the die. There is no save and no size restriction on this push effect. You can then use your reaction to move up into melee range with the target again. Finally, Slashing Flourish lets you add you add damage equal to your BI die roll to your target, as well deal that damage to a second target that’s also within your melee range. Note that none of the Blade Flourish options specify that you must make a melee attack, which means any of these effects can be trigger from ranged attacks, like a thrown dagger.

When you reach 6th level, you get the Extra Attack feature, allowing to make two attacks with your action.

Finally at level 14, you’ve perfected your Master’s Flourish. Whenever you use one of the Blade Flourish options, you can choose not to expend a Bardic Inspiration die and instead roll a d6 for the increased damage and effect. At this level your Bardic Inspiration die is a d10, so this option might deal less damage overall, but this allows you to perform flourishes every turn without worrying about resource management, and frees up your Bardic Inspiration to aid your allies.

The Hayes Code is currently DMing our group, running an original campaign in the Eberron setting. We’re playing as member of a traveling carnival/spy network for House Phiarlan.

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)
The Von Pique Estate

With the threat from the sewers taken care of, Brother Marcus of the Silver Flame was as good as his word. He managed to secure us an invitation to perform at Von Pique’s next party, set for just a few days later.

After some making some minor preparations, we arrived at the estate and were shown in by the butler. There were four long tables for the guests, as well as a head table at the front of the ballroom. Seated at the center for the head table, was Rudolph Von Pique himself, a Dwarf with greying hair. To his left, was an older human-looking gentlemen, a business partner of some kind, though I didn’t catch his name. Von Pique’s Elven wife sat his left.

We made our entrance, following Tinka who rode in on Androcles’s back, with Michigan the frog one one shoulder. Wind and I began our normal routines, while Tinka’s mechanical marvels astounded the audience. Clo stood by the main entrance, eyes out for trouble. Annabelle and Shirley wove through the crowd, plying their trade with various party-goers, while The Shill in their halfling noble disguise attempted to simply blend in with the crowd. I made my way to the head table, where Von Pique seemed to be enjoying our show. I made sure to point out Annabelle, and persuade Von Pique that her psychic abilities would be quite diverting.

Von Pique called the wins over, and Annabelle immediately set to work. It was masterfully done. Annabelle claimed she saw an aura of silver fire around him, and that she had premonitions of success in business ventures having to do with underground waterways. Von Pique’s reactions to this pronouncements all but confirmed that he was at least aware of what was going on with the deliveries in the sewers. Von Pique’s business partner seemed skeptical of Annabelle’s gifts, but she played into his skepticism to get him talking a bit as well. He mentioned that they’d been working on a deal to expand the estate into part of Little Cyre.

While these conversations were happening, Clo and Shill noticed two figures in leather armor quietly enter the hall and make their way into the kitchens. As Wind caused a distraction by jumping onto one of the lower tables and contorting herself in unique and interesting ways, Shill slipped into the kitchen themselves. There was no sign of the two leather-clad figures, but they did see cellar entrance guarded by a large ogre. Annabelle was able to cast Detect Magic and felt some necromantic energy coming from below.

We met for our complimentary meal and discussed what we’d found out so far. We obviously needed to get past the ogre guarding the stairs. Shill suggested that they could flood the entire building using the pellet from Dust of Dryness, but that seemed a bit extreme to the rest of us. Many of the party guests were probably innocent, and anyway, we didn’t want to cause too big of a scene. It’d be better to find out what exactly was going on quietly, if we could. If we could make sure the rest of the kitchen staff was out of the room somehow, I though I could probably hypnotize the ogre, allowing us all to sneak past.

While we were debating, Wind took matters into her own hands and just started chatting up the ogre. He introduced himself as Punchy Mac, and said it was his job to watch the stairs and make sure no one went down. Wind and Annabelle tried very hard to distract the ogre with questions, and though he was very friendly and talkative, he remained intent on his task. He did mention that he was hungry and wasn’t allowed to leave. As Annabelle charmed the head chef into Punchy Mac a meal break of his own, Tinka managed to sneak her frog past the ogre. Michigan was able to report that the room at the bottom of the stairs seemed to contain only a handful of crates and a large tapestry hanging from one wall.

Wind volunteered to try and sneak past the ogre herself, so I turned her invisible and she was able to sneak past Punchy Mac. After a few minutes of waiting, we heard the sound of a crate breaking and Wind started to come back up the stairs. Punchy Mac didn’t seem all that perturbed to see anyone coming up; after all, his job was simply to prevent anyone from going down. Wind said there zombies down there, so I quickly cast Suggestion on the ogre, telling him to let us all pass and not let anyone else know we’d gone down. As we dispatched the single zombie that Wind had released from a crate, she filled us in on everything she had seen down here so far.

Wind had noticed immediately that the crates in this room sounded like something was moving inside, but they were chained heavily. Moving aside the tapestry, she uncovered a door, leading to a short corridor that led to another storage room with more chained crates and a smaller cabinet. She could hear voices and the sounds of a minor struggle coming from another door off this room. Opening this door, she saw the two leather-clad ruffians Clo had noticed earlier leading an obviously undead body wrapped in burlap down the hall toward the room she was in. Luckily Wind was still invisible, and managed to get out of their way while they pulled this undead thing and wrestled it into one of the crates. The two figures then went back the way they come, saying they had “more to load.” Wind followed them a little ways, until they disappeared behind a large double door, and that point she decided to come back and get the rest of the group. On her way back she broke open the crate in the first room, in the hopes that Punchy Mac would hear and maybe allow the rest of us to pass to deal with the threat.

We followed Wind back to the second storeroom, where Annabelle found some building plans for the expansion of Von Pique’s estate into Little Cyre, as well as a scroll of Animate Dead, hidden in the smaller cabinet. As we were searching the room, we heard people moving back down the corridor towards us dragging another walking corpse, and we quickly tried to set up an ambush. Clo and Tinka pressed themselves close to the door, while the rest of us hid among the crates.

We had the drop on them, but the two ruffians reacted fast and managed to avoid a lot of our initial attacks. I finally managed to catch one of them with a Scorching Ray from my Circlet of Blasting, but not before they had each managed to hurt Tinka and Clo pretty badly. Both had let go of the ropes that were using to drag the undead thing into the room, and it fought its way out of the burlap. It was covered in bright green worms, and it spat one at Clo. Luckily, Annabelle saw it coming and was able to warn Clo to get out of the way before the worm could come into contact with her. Clo turned her attention to the undead creature, but Annabelle, trying to end this battle quickly, hit the bandits and unfortunately Androcles with a Psionic Blast, knocking them all backwards. Wind used that opportunity to soften up one of the bandits a bit, but I used Dissonant Whispers to make the undead thing run away, allowing Wind, Androcles, and Clo to attack as it ran, and together they dropped it.

The bandits surrendered and told us to burn the undead body before it got back up, which Shill was happy to do. A brief interrogation showed that these bandits were just hired goons and didn’t know much, but they did tell us that the undead creatures were being created in another chamber just down the hall. After taking a minute to cast some healing spells on Clo and Tinka, we pressed on to put an end to Von Pique’s scheme once and for all…