AvocaD&D and Tabletop Gaming: An Invitation to Karnov Mansion

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.

Up for discussion this week is the Assassin Rogue, one of the three Roguish Archetypes listed in the Player’s Handbook. Assassins focus on stealth and disguise in order to engineer the perfect opportunity for a quick and deadly strike, ideally before the target even knows the Assassin is there.

Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with both the disguise kit and the poisoner’s kit. In addition, when you act first in combat, you can Assassinate your target. Your attacks have advantage on any creature that has not taken a turn in combat yet, and any hit you score on a creature that is surprised is an automatic critical hit. Note that whenever you have an advantage on an attack you can deal your Sneak Attack damage, and a critical hit with a Sneak Attack means you double the amount of Sneak Attack dice rolled in addition to the weapon’s base damage.

At level 9, you have Infiltration Expertise, which allows you to assume an false identity that is unerringly convincing. It takes 7 days and 25 gp to establish yourself with a false profession, history, and affiliations, which will allow you to insinuate yourself into any group. You can’t take on an identity that is already belongs to someone else–you create a whole new person out of thin air (think Andy Dufresne creating “Peter Stevens” in Shawshank). Once you adopt this identity, though, other creatures will believe you to be that person until given an obvious reason not to.

By the time you reach 13th level, your skills extend to mimicking others’ behavior, speech, and writing, making you an expert Impostor. You must spend at least three hours studying someone’s mannerisms, speech patterns, and handwriting, and once you do, you can flawlessly recreate them. To any casual observer, your ruse in indiscernible, and you have advantage on any Deception check you make to avoid detection by a more observant creature.

Finally, at level 17, you become even more effective when you get the drop on an enemy, delivering a Death Strike when you hit a surprised enemy with an attack. The target of your attack must make a CON save, or take double the amount of damage from your hit. Remember you’ll have advantage on the attack from your Assassinate feature, and the hit will be an automatic critical. Even with just a normal dagger, your damage roll on a critical hit with Sneak Attack will be 2d4+18d6+5 (assuming you have maxed out your DEX), which is already an average of 73 damage. With Death Strike that damage is doubled, allowing you do to deal an average of 146 damage in one hit–provided of course, that you can successfully surprise the creature in the first place.

Players and Characters

TheHayesCode took over the DM’s chair this week, for a special spooky one-shot (or probably more like two-shot) for Halloween! This adventure is set in Eberron, where 5 strangers each receive an invitation to a dinner party at the isolated Karnov Mansion.

Our players include (with thanks to Spiny Creature for these brief introductions):

  • Wafflicious as Chaz Templeton, Half-Orc Redemption Paladin, a fashionable gentleman in a full tux
  • CleverGuy as Haefral Razwunder, Hill Dwarf Celestial Warlock, a woodcutter turned sudden hero after rescuing a duke
  • JosephusBrown as Harold, Hobgoblin Order of Scribes Wizard, a visiting Droamish scholar
  • Spiny Creature as Mallory Ert, Human Circle of Bees1 Druid, an eccentric Warden of the Wood turned beekeeper
  • The Wasp as Mary Worthy, Kobold Grave Cleric, a claustrophobic ghost hunter

Spiny Creature wrote our recap this week, in the form of a conversation between Mallory and her “children.” Enjoy, and thanks Spiny!

An Invitation to Karnov Mansion

Sweetheart, are you there? Mummy is having a very bad end to her week.

We’re sorry to hear that Mother is in pain. If Mother has injured herself, Mother should return to the hive quickly.

I’m afraid it’s not as simple as just going home, darling. You know I’m working all the way out in Breland. Near Sharn, with all the infernal crowds.

Busy busy buzzing in Sharn. Swarming all around. You have described it for us before, Mother.

Yes, well, I received a dinner invitation from this dreadful little man – Argo, he called himself. Said he was the butler to a Vivian Karnov, who lived on some lovely land out in the country and was looking to host adventurers. Offer them work that’d be worth their while. And you know I never would have accepted, but dammit! – I was curious about her land. And what sort of work she might have for me.

Plenty of work for Mother in the hive. If Mother needs work, there is always work.

Yes, sweetheart. But I went to dinner and met a clutch of other guests. All local curiosities like Mother is. A foreign hobgoblin scholar, a half-orc in a beautiful suit, a woodcutter who had saved the life of a duke. A sort of ghost-hunting little kobold oddity. That sort of person.

Of course, I couldn’t keep up with the card games the goblin and the kobold were proposing. But at least there was wine to drink, some of it even sweet enough.

We were escorted to the manor by another horrible little man, Zeb, who said we could “bag some game” at dinner. I thought he was making a crude joke about the Karnov woman’s eligible offspring, since they would all be available. At the time, yes – that was what I thought.

Anyway, we met the Karnov woman and her five children. Let’s see if I can recall them all – Maria the eldest, an archer woman. Ella, some sort of lute player. Marcus and Job, dull as all men. And Evie, the youngest, who was excitable as any child.

At the time I noticed all six of them wore matching blue pendants. But I did not yet have reason to wonder about it.

The half-orc with the beautiful suit – Chaz, his name is – was flattered by the Karnov family right away. They invited him to play piano and questioned him about a hellhound he had hunted. That led them to mention their grandfather collected exotic animals and created a beautiful menagerie, but that they had since let the animals roam their land freely.

Vivian Karnov then revealed one of the reasons we were invited – to help her hunt down animals in the menagerie that had become too much of a menace. The moment we agreed, she toasted us – and the floor opened up beneath our feet.

From Mother’s tone, we conclude this is not a thing floors are supposed to do.

Indeed not, sweetheart. All the guests plummeted 20 feet down into a dark basement, and the little girl Evie appeared above us, taunting us before she closed the trapdoor. The scholar – Harold – found that the basement held huntsman garb and a note: “the six of them are exquisite – they’ll look marvelous added to the wall”.

What that means, sweetheart, is that the Karnov family we met are impostors of some sort, and probably meaning to add us to their little collection of hunting trophies as well.

Mother is being unclear and we wish Mother would be clear. Is Mother saying these people wish to kill Mother?

That’s about the size of it.

We would like to meet them, Mother. We wish to crawl inside their mouths and never come back out again.

And you will soon, sweetheart.

But anyway, there was only one way forward out of the basement. It smelled of mammal droppings and there was growling. Turned out there were trick panels in the walls and – when slid back – six starving tigers lunged out at us.

Haefral – that’s the woodcutter I mentioned, the simple godly one – spoke to the tigers the same way I speak to you. He persuaded them they could get more food if we were able to free them.

Turned out one of the six was an impostor – that is to say, a weretiger – and he was the one that had chained and starved the five real tigers. They turned on him, but the weretiger quickly shifted back to humanoid form and touched the same blue pendant the whole Karnov family had. As soon as he touched it, he teleported away.

We will give chase, Mother, and lead him toward the water. Watch and see if his head will surface.

I know you will, sweetheart. Anyway, with Haefral having solved that, we were able to exit onto the grounds into a massive ivy maze. There were two more tigers and a statue on a pedestal, which we suddenly realized was Maria the archer. Holding herself still as a statue, about to pounce.

The kobold with the ghost friends – Mary – cast Bane and weakened all three of our enemies. Even so, those two tigers mauled me right up. I had to wild shape into a symbiotic form with your sisters to protect myself.

We are glad our sisters helped Mother. Did our sisters climb into the mouths of the tigers? Did they make the space in their throats go away?

They did, sweetheart, they killed a tiger that way. Harold knocked Maria off the pedestal with a Grease spell, and that let Haefral kill her with Booming Blade before she could teleport away. The other tiger ran off after his mistress died, thankfully.

And – well – I’m afraid that’s where I am now, sweetheart. Stuck in this maze, with four or five of these rich, bored weretigers left. It seems they want to hunt me, and I have a while still before I can rest.

We have not met the Karnovs yet, Mother, but we would like to. If they have been causing Mother pain, we would like to meet them.

I hope you do, sweetheart. I’ll see you soon.