Sky Pirates: Campaign Diary 3 (Disaster Strikes!)

Well, it’s what it sounds like.

Not entirely sure as to how long this will be, seeing as though it was pretty straightforward overall. Before dawn, the players attempted to sneak into the desert fortification they were scouting out. They went around the right side where some lumber was piled, stood atop it, and attempted to throw grappling hook onto the wall. It did, in fact, hit the wall. It just didn’t fulfill the purpose for which it’s named, and instead serve that of a tuning fork, albeit one that was fastballed at an adobe wall. the guard on the wall, one of two, took note. He began walking to the other guard tower, connected by a walkway on top of the wall itself. Alistair wanted to distract him with a prestidigitation, mimicking some wind nearby. I had him roll performance check to see how clever he could be with this; it was another fail. The rest of the party in the meantime, hold themselves up over the wall, once Alistair used his climb speed to go up and properly hitch the grappling hook. It’s worth noting at this point, they left the grappling hook behind.

What followed was the party somewhat poorly taking cues concerning the camps general alertness. After the first guard made his way over to the Southwest guard tower, he returned with the second guard. They conversed in their own tongue, but didn’t appear to be on high alert. The party very wisely didn’t try anything risky while the pair were together. The second guard went back to his tower, and the first one stayed on the wall, leaning over the parapet. This was roughly the only section of the night that the party succeeded in not making sufficient noise to alert somebody. the party had at this point gotten to the very top of the Northeast guard tower, at which 2 of them jumped over to the roof of the administrative building, while Gloridrod stayed on overwatch.

we were joined for the first time tonight by Ellis, who joined the group some time ago but was unable to show up for the first two sessions. I had (I thought) the perfect introduction for her character, in need of rescue from this camp. I screwed up, however; I didn’t give the character an opportunity to begin doing things while her guard was still there, sleeping. She didn’t get to act at all until one hour into the session, at which point her guard was quietly drawn out of the building for some purpose (for which I still feel bad). In addition, the party literally did not venture from the administrative building or guard tower for practically the entire session, much less before combat started. Therefore, they didn’t have an opportunity to find the cell, or really anything else.

When Alistair went on to the rooftop of the administrative building, he failed his stealth check. There was a hatch that led down to the second floor of the administrative building, which Braka went down. I mentioned that he noticed movement going down the steps to the first floor right as he made his way down to the second. I mentioned he was in a kind of master bedroom/office. He made some checks to listen into the first floor, and upon doing poorly, just stuck his head down and looked around. He didn’t see anyone, so he went back up and began looting the master bedroom. He stole some official looking documents off the desk ( written in the Brestrel tongue), saw a large metal chest, and noted an empty armor and shield rack, along with an empty scabbard. He decided at this point to attempt breaking into the metal lockbox with a crowbar.

His first check succeeded, which made some noise. Alistair, Gloridrod, and the guard on the wall all heard it. The crowbar had just gotten some purchase between the lid. Braka decided to rage (giving him advantage on the check) and have another go at it. He unfortunately failed the check, and promptly made even more noise. It sounded like shaking marbles inside of a metal can, except louder. Right around this time, the two characters on the rooftop noticed a lantern being hooded and un-hooded repeatedly from the Southwest guard tower. The guard near the northeast tower saw this as well, and hurriedly went inside (though not upstairs).

this is also when Ellis had the chance for her escape. Her guard had been woken by a knock at the door, and after a brief discussion (which she could not understand), exited the building. I think Ellis is new to certain aspects of D&D, and had some confusion as to how certain spells work. I know most of the spells of fifth edition, which in addition to allowing me to help players that get them confused with other editions, lets me understand just how difficult keeping track of them can be. She used dragon’s breath to spray acid across the wall, against which she rubbed her bindings and weaken the wall simultaneously. Bruising her knuckles, she been through the last two or so inches of Adobe sitting between her and freedom. Alistair actually noticed this happening, and there would have been an opportunity to share details (one in particular I’d sent to Ellis over dms) had something not first happened.

Braka approached the barracks, hoping to look through a window. I asked him to show me exactly where on the map (we used roll20 for this session), at which point I explained he was actually pointing to a door. He wasted no time (I’d hoped to point him to the nearest window) in telling me he would peek through the door, stealthily of course. He rolled a stealth check; natural one. Braka tripped as he moved to push the door open, slamming it open to a large number of awake, fully aware, fully armored Brestrels. The jig was up, and unbeknownst to the players until now, had been for some time.

You see, armor (and in particular medium and heavy armor) take some time to put on. Whoever was in the administrative building (presumably the jackal captain) made his way to the barracks when he was alerted, carrying his equipment with him. This was opposed to catching him asleep, unarmed, wearing a tunic.while he was making his way over, the party did not spot him, meaning he had time to wake the barracks, have them quietly get ready for battle, and keep them on high alert. Around two dozen Brestrels, awake and fully armed, as opposed to sleeping and defenseless in their bunks. the captain made his way to the front of the potential recruits, and began attacking Braka. He hits, and the magical blade bypasses Braka’s typical immunity. He’s at this point raged, so he’s taking half damage, but it put the fear of God into him nonetheless. Shots are coming from the southwest guard tower; the Brestrel inside has a heavy rifle, taking a hefty chunk out of Alistair’s hit points. The other Brestrels fan out. Some had between the smaller buildings to the north west to flank, some fire crossbows at Alistair and Gloridrod before ducking back behind cover, and the other storm the Northeast guard tower.

This is essentially the worst case scenario. I heard some players mention ( not entirely unreasonably) that had a certain thing I will mention in a moment not happened, things still would’ve been relatively fine. Besides the fact that they did a poor job of resolving the various issues leading up to this situation, I don’t think it’s entirely the case. Being a lycanthrope doesn’t protect you from being thrown into a canyon, and without area of effect attacks, the Brestrels superior numbers would’ve proved challenging at the least, and deadly at the worst of the party’s poor tactical decisions. These are, of course, what if scenarios. The party attempted to focus down the captain, seeing as though he was the only one capable (to their knowledge) of harming Braka with regular attacks. Once Gloridrod dealt the ostensibly killing blow, however, it became very clear that things were not about to go in their favor.

The captain’s body changed, transformed, his gear melding into his new appearance as a young, blue Dragon.

What followed was Ellis and Gloridrod escaping over the sand dune from which the party had originally approached, Alastair throwing himself into the canyon and casting feather fall, and Braka being reduced to unconsciousness by a lightning breath, subsequently subdued and captured. It’s definitely the first low point of the campaign; but not to worry. The party is already expressed their interest in a rescue mission, and provided they can evade capture before dealing with their opponents or facing enemy reinforcements with reinforcements of their own, it should make for an exciting comeback ( or at the very least, opportunity for replacement characters).