The Adventures of a 5e GM and her players, part 4 + 5

Because I’ve been super duper busy this week with work (things are looking somewhat up!) I didn’t have time to write this up. However, I am here now and I am writing this up from memory of what happened, as I largely remember everything last week and definitely remember this week. Well, enough excuses, let’s get on with the juicy details.

As a reminder, the group consists of:

  • Joey “Gruzark” Smith – Half-orc barbarian (berserker)
  • Ownka Bronson – Half orc bard (college of lore)
  • Hank – Human ranger (beastmaster)
  • Andarius Rhyn – Half elf druid (circle of the moon)

Our adventurers found themselves outside a village that they had been heading towards last session. They couldn’t see much activity and saw that the village did not have any walls or farmlands. The group, conscious that most of the world outside was rather xenophobic, approached the town cautiously. However, they weren’t met with torches and pitchforks; or rather they weren’t met with anything. It was incredibly quiet. The streets had no activity and as the group continued into the village they started to notice it was strange. They headed towards the centre of the village, finding the local tavern. They knocked on the door and were greeted by a human in chainmail, wielding a greatsword.

Now this human was… a tad hostile. He didn’t attack the PCs, but also had no interest in talking to them and it was only due to one of the other citizens stepping forward that the PCs were even allowed into the tavern. This civilian told the PCs that a strange man had come into the town last week, but had left soon after. However the next day the town found themselves under siege by the undead. Most of the village population was dead (and risen into undeath) and most of the survivors were sick and injured. The armor clad human turned out to be a paladin of Ghyllis, the god of death, and was protecting the town as best he could, but was only one man.

The PCs rested, but were rudely awoken by an undead attack during the night. A flesh golem was at the head of the charge, with a pair of skeletons and a pair of zombies. Joey looked out the window and took an arrow to the shoulder immediately. He proceeded to jump out the window and go into a rage, which started the combat in full. It was not a particularly challenging fight, with the main issue really being the fact that the flesh golem seemed to absorb their attacks and took a while to go down. Well, and the fact that my players were introduced to undead fortitude when one of the zombies just refused to go down until the paladin hit it with some radiant damage.

The group rested and then tracked the undead the next day, following their tracks to a small, wooded area (where Andarius failed a nature check to notice something plot related. Oh well…). Within this area they found a tunnel that led underground that seemed to be a natural cave (though Joey was insistent they were elven. Rolling a 0 on an intelligence check will do that to you).

This is where the session really ended. It was a bit of a shorter one as I think one of the players had to go and I didn’t want to start the dungeon crawl at that time as I knew what was coming up in room number 1…

Zombies. And skeletons. A whole lot of them. The PCs got into a fight with a room full of undead as soon as they entered. Due to torchlight, the PCs were well illuminated and got shot by crit archers. I call them crit archers because the number of natural 20s I rolled with them this session was disgusting, though they were all firing from out of the PCs’ darkvision and torchlight, so they were getting advantage. The PCs took a surprising amount of damage from the sheer weight of numbers, but were able to come out on top, though Andarius triggered an explosive trap when he cast a spell over it without knowing it was there, dealing Joey a hefty blow as Joey was standing on the other side of it. Joey then proceeded to charge right over the next explosive trap, the blasts totally incinerating his pet mouse.

After a short rest, the party moved ever onwards, more cautiously since the two explosive traps almost incinerated Joey as well. Joey felt wind from one way, so they decided to take that tunnel, managing to avoid the trap that lay in wait for them there. Exiting the tunnel they found a huge underground chasm and some spider webs. Andarius decided to start burning the webs like the good(?) druid that he is, which saw the PCs get attacked by a pair of giant spiders. However, the two spiders were quickly dispatched by the players and Hank harvested enough venom for a single dose of spider poison.

The PCs walked along the chasm, which Joey discovered had water at the bottom by dropping a pebble down and hearing the (very) faint splash. As they made their way along the chasm, using a dancing lights cantrip from Ownka to light their way, they found a naturally formed bridge across. While they debated whether or not to cross, Ownka’s lights came into sight of more undead who immediately attacked the party, firing arrows at Joey. It was here that the dynamic lighting feature in Roll20 came into its own. Joey, having been shot, went into a rage. He could see a pair of zombies advancing through the tunnel and charged down to them. As he reached them he noticed there were more than just two and quickly got swamped by zombies and skeletons, while the archers continued to harass the others as they came around the corner. As they were all grouped up, Ownka used shatter on the melee, hitting the entire crowd of undead but also hitting Joey in the process.

And this is where something big happened. Joey went down in a flurry of zombie attacks. The first one didn’t drop him. The second caused his half-orc endurance to trigger, as it would’ve knocked him down but instead reduced him to 1 hit point, the third attack dropped him unconscious and the fourth caused two failed death saves. Once again, for the third time this campaign, Joey’s survival came down to a d20 roll, but this time luck was not on his side and he failed his third and final death save. Yes, we had a player character casualty this session.

The party eventually managed to fend off the remaining undead, with two zombies being particularly stubborn and causing more damage than they really should have through constant undead fortitude successes, but a fog cloud cut off the archers sight lines so they were unable to harass the back line and stopped causing the multitude of failed concentration checks that they were causing. The party retrieved Joey’s body and retreated outside the cave system to lick their wounds and plan their next move.


I enjoyed this session, though the death of a player character is never an easy thing to deal with as a GM. This particular player character went down with very much a fight, but the PCs were just unable to carve a path to him in time as he was surrounded by zombies and skeletons. I (hope) it has put some foreshadowing into the players’ minds that their three months of jail time has meant that things have definitely progressed in the world and the threats are very real.

I do like that this is a very threatening location. Necromancers in this setting are incredibly dangerous and should be approached carefully; there are reasons why the majority of the non-elven population fears magic and I feel like the PCs are encountering one of them now. I was happy to start introducing another aspect of a big bad as well, rather than just bandits and wild animals.

I believe that next session the players are diving back in, but I sincerely hope they re-evaluate their approach. There’s a lot of potential XP on offer here, as well as a very decent reward, but there’s also a large risk associated with this.

I look forward to see what next session brings.

The Adventures of a Cyberpunk 2020 GM and her players, part 3

This session was a typical “made plans, didn’t get to them” session. However, it was part of my plan that we wouldn’t get to my planned job, so I’m not disappointed. I knew that the players were going to have “things” to do this session, and was I right or was I right!

As a reminder, our PCs are:

  • Eduardo “Plata” Gayoso – A former ganger who joined the police force as he saw it as a way to gain more power (and beat people down legally).
  • Edward “Crossfire” Caine – A retired corporate security member who has found himself feeling rather useless, so has taken to edgerunning to keep his skills sharp.
  • Zheng “Hard Truth” Huo – A… paranoid conspiracy theorist vlogger who is obsessed with his job to show the real truth to the masses.

And our named NPCs who came up this session were:

  • Iron Hawk – A relatively new fixer who is interested in bringing the PCs into the edgerunning scene as new talent.
  • StR33t_Sa1Nt – An enthusiastic and fun loving netrunner who is eager to impress and has a massive crush / hero worships Archangel (a world famous netrunner)
  • Cold Snap – A more experienced fixer who doesn’t like new talent and prefers hiring more experienced edgerunners.

So I will be brief with most of what happened. There was a lot of sleeping and first aid and seeing ripperdocs as two of three party members were incredibly wounded following the previous job. I won’t bore you with the details, but this happened for a while. Hard Truth vlogged about stuff that happened in the world while he rested, however one his way to get first aid from Crossfire on one day he was mugged by some Jackals gangers, one of which got a massive crit roll for their brawling and punched him in the face, bringing him back into serious wounds.

Following on from this, Plata started his revenge-quest, trading some information that he pulled from the police archives to Iron Hawk in exchange for information on Aspect, the corporate who was a part of the opposing team from the previous job. He went for a stakeout, observing her apartment and saw her returning in the evening.

Crossfire asked Iron Hawk for the contact information of an edgerunner named StR33t_Sa1Nt, who was under her employ. Once he had this, he hired her to find a good gunsmith in the local area, but not in the Corporate Zone, and also information about the illegal street fighting ring known as the Crucible. She went to the Net to find the information, but was unable to find it there so she took to the streets, asking around for the information as she wouldn’t admit defeat in this relatively simple task. However, she was not the most streetwise of people and ended up not showing to a meeting that she and Crossfire had scheduled that evening. Crossfire dropped this altogether and continued about his business.

However, a few days later, Crossfire gets a call from a perturbed Iron Hawk. She asks him if he knows what happened with StR33t_Sa1Nt, to which Crossfire admits he does not. Turns out when she went to ask around she ended up getting kidnapped by Cold Snap (which is not a good thing for anyone involved…) and Iron Hawk hired other edgerunners to rescue the young netrunner, as following the last mission that they partially botched combined with this incident she didn’t trust the PCs to handle this.  She also implied that it was an expense that Crossfire was going to be responsible for.

She then called them to a meeting for a new job that she was going to give them, however this is where Plata and Hard Truth finally clashed. Plata had received the information as to who killed the detective and was determined to kill the cop-killer. He got to the meeting slightly before Hard Truth and tried to persuade the bouncer that he was going t beat someone up and that the bouncer shouldn’t get involved. He crit failed the roll and started an argument with the bouncer, at which point Hard Truth arrived and approached, greeting them both. Plata immediately grabbed him, put him in a hold and started to move him away from the bar. At this point, Hard Truth started calling for help, stating that the police were oppressing him in the lawless part of town, which attracted a nearby Syndicate ganger to his aid. Plata threw Hard Truth to the ground and yelled at the ganger to not get involved, trying to intimidate him, but it didn’t work. The Syndicate ganger shot Plata in the arm, rolling near max damage and causing limb loss. Plata passed his death save, but quickly surrendered. Hard Truth tried to punch him, so he dodged, but the ganger shot him again, scoring a headshot and killing Plata. The player burned luck (a houserule I’ve implemented) to avoid death and Plata was taken off to hospital again as he fell onto his healthcare card, snapping it and triggering a team to come and extract him. Hard Truth took his pistol.

Iron Hawk arrived later, arriving 15 minutes in advance of the meeting time (the other two arrived and tried to kill each other 30 mins before), and Crossfire was late as he was trying to move stealthily through the Combat Zone and was badly delayed because the Syndicate are observant (he wasn’t spotted though). In this time, Hard Truth asked how Plata might have gotten the information, to which Iron Hawk replied that she wasn’t the only information broker but he also could’ve investigated it himself, as police tend to investigate when one of their own is killed. During the meeting, Hard Truth spun his tale as to what happened between him and Plata to Crossfire, who was easily convinced, though Iron Hawk saw through his story. When Crossfire asked why Plata tried to kill Hard Truth, she gave Hard Truth the opportunity to explain, but he merely tried looking innocent, so Iron Hawk told Crossfire that Hard Truth had murdered a detective and Plata didn’t like cop-killers. Crossfire then basically called Iron Hawk incompetent which, after botching the last job she gave them (by running in guns blazing after being told that running in guns blazing likely wouldn’t work by Iron Hawk), getting one of her other runners kidnapped by hiring her for a job she wasn’t qualified to do (she was also a bit irritated that he didn’t just ask her for the information, as she is literally an information broker) and causing her expenses that could easily have been avoided… she had to roll a Cool check to see if she would keep her cool in this situation or just have them killed. At this point Hard Truth was dirty laundry, as she knows she shouldn’t have given Plata the information (but he rolled a 26), and Crossfire was showing to be a bumbling old man and not worth the trouble. She passed the check and so she didn’t order their “removal” but she was done with the meeting. Looking at Crossfire and Hard Truth (who was in critical wounds again) and considering Plata was no longer going to run with this team, she decided to give the job she had to her other team she had formed out of the NPCs that the players could hire.

Once Crossfire and Hard Truth had left Syndicate territory, Hard Truth explained that he didn’t trust Iron Hawk, but told Crossfire not to anger her because she’s a dangerous individual. The two would continue to work for her, but the implication from the conversation was that they were going to potentially oppose her in the future.

I have since rolled the dice for the B team and their job escorting a corporate around the Combat Zone to make some deals. They didn’t botch it.

Next week we return to D&D 5e, so this campaign is being put on hold for now (as with my current work hours there is no way I can run two games per week, however once I move to a new role I expect I will be able to because I hopefully won’t be working until 10pm each night)

I’m going to miss my beloved sci-fi subgenre…