This is, indeed, a place where magic happens…
Session 13 – The Road To Athesa
The Road to Athesa in search of information to locate a sorcerer!
In my previous post, we built out the city of Athesa that our party is venturing to. Now it’s time to get back to more of the adventure story and see what mischief our party gets into on the way there.
Advice to the reader
In order to interpret the structure of my gaming session posts effectively, it is strongly suggested that you peruse A Readers Guide to Play Sessions on The Old Bard, if you haven’t already.
To better grasp what I mean when I bring up Fate questions, you might find it useful to keep the Mythic Fate Chart accessible, potentially in a new window or tab in your browser.
The Story So Far
The party has returned to Dreadmere and rested for the evening They are about to set out to the city north of Dreadmere called Athesa. Their goal? To seek out information regarding the location of a powerful sorcerer. This of course at the request of Moody the soothsayer back at the carnival. They were told this sorcerer would be key in aiding them, but for what they are not sure.
Day 16 – Scene 54
ATGM: To start tings off, I've added a new scene (54) titled The Road to Athesa to the adventure journal. Also noting our current Chaos Factor which is 5. I've also added the word "Brother" on my characters list since Mara heard this when meditating on her Rune the night prior. The reason is if there is a Random Event that occurs from Mythic, I want the chance of that being the focus. I, as the GM know what this ultimately means but our characters do not, and I'm saving that as a surprise for all of you. In Mythic terms, I've set the stage for what it calls an Expected Scene. An Expected Scene is basically how you "plan" for things to start and what you want your characters to do next. You can just roll with that and begin, or you could let fate decide that for you. I'm going to use the Mythic technique of letting fate decide for me. To do this, you roll 1d10 and test against the Chaos Factor (Which is 5 for me). If your result is over the chaos factor, then your scene begins expected. I roll a 1. This means, since it's an odd number, it's an Altered Scene. Mythic details various different ways the scene can be altered. I'm going to do a slight tweak for this and use the Scene Adjustment Table to decide for me.
ATGM: I roll a 7 so I need to make 2 adjustments, so I need to make 2 more rolls for the table. My results are 4 and 5. 4 is Increase An Activity, so since our scene is the party starting off on the road to Athesa, I'm just going to increase the importance of that against anything else that comes up. 5 is Remove an Object, which means I need to remove something of importance here. This could be anything of course. In my mind, I'm thinking of something being removed that would impact the party in a negative way. I decide that I'm going to temporarily remove Mara from the party. She has fallen Ill, and she will remain in Dreadmere to rest. This will have an impact on the party since her assistance in any combat that arises could be detrimental to them.
Everyone meets in the lobby of The Leering Eagle the next morning; however, Mara informs everyone that she is feeling very ill and would like to rest. The party decides this is best, and that they would return once they have gathered information in Athesa on the location of the sorcerer that they seek. Morn, Thenelis and Ulmog set out north of town to the road leading to Athesa. The party studies their map and determine that they should reach Athesa by nightfall and head out.
ATGM: The Players Handbook (PHB) states that travel at a normal pace is about 3 miles per hour. On my map, I've decided at some point I don't remember when, that each square represented about 3 miles each. So, from Dreadmere to Athesa, is about 20 miles. Roughly every 6 miles, I'll roll for a chance to an encounter along the road to Athesa with roughly a 50/50 chance. I place a simple token on my printout of the map and move it up two squares along the road that moves to the west side of the mountains to Athesa. My first 1d100 roll is a 94, which per Mythic is an Exceptional No in this case. I interpret this as the roads seem strikingly empty considering that Dreadmere is a Trading Post and Athesa is a city close by and we would expect to see occasional traffic along the road between them. This could help influence part of our story. Another 6 miles and another 1d100 results in 97. Another Exceptional No. I decide that the party, when they reach Athesa, will ask about this lack of activity. I add a new thread on my Threads List called Traffic Between Dreadmere and Athesa. Another 6 miles of travel and the party is about 3 miles south of Athesa now. A 1d100 results in 41. The party does have an encounter this time. But what type of encounter? To determine the type of encounter, I'm going to use Untold Encounters of the Random Kind. From looking at the map, you could say we're either in a Mountain region or perhaps the Plains, so I'm going to choose Plains. I turn to page 156 in Untold Encounters, and roll 1d100 for a result of 51. The enounter name for 51 is called Hunting Pack so I turn to the page that contains that encounter. The description for this encounter is as follows: This [Equal] sized pack of Nemesis Hounds [Standard Monster] have been given the Characters scent by someone and they are hunting down their prey. These magically crafted dogs are superb hunters, and never tire or stop once orders are given by their creator. The Characters must have annoyed the wrong person! This book is built for any TTRPG, so we have to do a bit of translation up front to replace the keywords given in the encounter description. Equal from the book means that there are the same number of creatures in the encounter as there are PCs. In this case we have 3 PCs (Morn, Thenelis and Ulmog) so there will be 3 Nemesis Hounds. Standard Monster means that a monster equal in challenge rating. I'll say that these Nemesis Hounds are your standard Hell Hound from the D&D basic rules. I have a general technique for placement of creatures in my encounters. Which is I roll a d6 or d10 etc depending on how large the area is and place a creature that far away in front of the party. I then roll 1d20 and if 10 or under, I roll again to move the creature that many spaces to the left. If 11 or higher, to the right. Obviously taking into account any constraints by the environment. I repeat this for each creature. However, in this case, since it's a pack of dogs, I only do it for the first, and put the other two close to it.
As the party is getting closer to Athena, they are suddenly rushed by a pack of 3 Hell Hounds.
ATGM: The map above is a map from D&D Tactical Maps Reincarnated. On the right, you'll see where I've listed each PC and creature in initiative order. To the right, I note down their individual hit points that I adjust as necessary during combat. I'm not going to detail every single action in combat in these posts, however if something interesting does happen during turns, I'll certainly call that out. You can read more about combat here.
Ulmog notices the hounds and immediately jumps into action by using his longbow on the first hell hound. However, during combat, the party realized they were in a deadly battle taking on massive damage.
Morn used his Invisibility spell from his Doss Lute to make himself invisible to try to place himself between the party and the hounds to use Shatter or Thunderwave. Unfortunately, the one hell hound was able to get to Thenelis and bite him over 2 rounds before Thenelis fell unconscious, and Ulmog met one of the hounds’ fire breath taking him out as well.
Morn then, while still invisible reached each of his teammates and used Invisibility on them, and also covered them in dirt and mud so the hounds would have a difficult time smelling for them. Morn then used Healing Word to restore HP to Thenelis and Ulmog and they stealthily retreated into the trees.
The hell hounds were unsure what to do next since they couldn’t find the members of the party so they all three began to howl in unison.
Suddenly a sinister figure with dark robes adorned with skulls and other ominous symbols appears before them. The figures eyes were dark and piercing, with an unnerving intensity that seems to look straight through the party. Its skin is pallid and almost translucent, giving the impression that they are not quite human.
As it speaks to the hounds, its voice echoes with an otherworldly power, sending shivers down the parties’ spines. They can sense the raw magical energy that surrounds them, and it seems to seep into the very air around them, thickening it with a sense of dread.
The hounds dart up the road towards the city and the sinister figure disappears.
Morn, Thenelis and Ulmog wait for what seemed like an hour before they decided to continue on their way to the city but keeping off the main road to remain hidden.
ATGM: I certainly didn't mean to put such a deadly encounter in front of my party, and quite honestly, I thought it was going to be a Total Party Kill (TPK) in the end. I honestly felt the pressure to think creatively to get them out of the situation. However, this does add some great plot hooks for me into my narrative. I've added a new thread to my Threads List called Who Let the Dogs Out to determine why these hell hounds were sent out after us and who was behind it.
The party finally reaches Athesa around 2PM that day. The Merchant District is just beyond the first gate into the city. They find an Inn called The Bloody Body (fitting) and decide to rest for the day and tend to their wounds.
Ouch! Those hell hounds were a surprise. I probably should have done more research on hell hounds before I just selected that random encounter from Untold Encounters. It certainly wasn’t a very well-balanced encounter for my party. Untold Encounters however doesn’t try to accomplish that for you, so I don’t particularly put it at fault, but this is the second or third encounter I’ve used from the book that always seems to be, well “meh”. So, I’m not sure exactly how I feel about that resource. It DID, however, remind me of a feature I thought might be cool for my random encounter generator. That being you feeding it the CRs for monsters you already have selected, and it determines the difficulty of the encounter against your parties’ thresholds.
Regardless, IMHO this ends the scene. I’m going to vote that the party didn’t really have full control over the scene, those hell hounds were a surprise, so I’m going to increase the Chaos Factor to 6 moving forward. I’ve already added Who Let the Dogs Out and Traffic Between Dreadmere and Athesa on my threads list and put Hell Hounds & Sinister Figure on my characters list.
I also triggered a Long Rest in DND Beyond for my characters Morn and Thenelis.
We’ll start a new scene in the next post and see where the story takes our party.
Till next time!