Okay, so, for startsies, we had some confusion in terms of the timetable: Eunice has joined the game, and she’s got a character all her own. Introducing the character to the group the way the group generally wanted to, i.e., immediately, meant rewinding to before the botched ritual to cross over to the Gray. This led to more confusion, because over the week between the two sessions, Carla had forgotten just what the ritual did and was expecting to pull Pringe back from the Gray without having to go into it. Or possibly this confusion was created at the end of the last session, I dunno. Also we were sans Donald this session, on account of he had a conflict (we’re still working on scheduling, as ever).
Anyway, Eunice has a new character, a halfling barbarian, low intelligence, low charisma, whose backstory is that he (1) was raised by wolf-equivalents (wolves are, of course, extinct; their ecological niche is now occupied by toothy angry flightless bird-lizard-birds) out in the desert, ignorant of his halfling “jungle cannibal” heritage. His name is… something Anklebiter, I want to say Maximus or Augustus or Alouicious, something like that, which was a pet name his owner gave him when he was a humanoid guard-dog. If I get a chance I’ll edit this out, if not, well, I guess I forgot. Anklebiter was part of a caravan passing by the Tower of Eyes, the members of which all died in the inital undead attack, and whom the NPCs had tossed into the mass grave along with all the corpses. Thom and Trevia are disposing of the corpses with fire, so that I-Cannot-Be-Helped can’t animate them, and one of them is still moving…
(1) Eunice had, in previous games, played female characters. She’s also had her characters get unduly sexualized and/or forced into submissive positions, in ways that didn’t seem to bother her at the time but which she didn’t initiate, either; it was a running gag that if the PCs’ ruses involved someone chained up as a prisoner or someone pretending to be someone’s slutty girlfriend, someone acting like a Fire Knife groupie to gain access to the Fire Knives’ hidden base, et cetera, it would be Eunice’s PC. The group did a lot of LFR adventures wherein they liked to jump off the rails with cunning plots and crazy capers, so this happened a bunch of times. Also at one point in a D&D Encounters session, Eunice triggered a trap which teleported all of her character’s clothing to a hidden treasure vault it took us a couple of sessions to reach. Now, again I assure thee, Eunice was never initiating this behavior, but she also appeared to vigorously run with it more often than not. So I don’t know if her choice to make Anklebiter male was a reaction against this in general or in particular (I don’t doubt that Carla would have made some kind of hay from a female feral halfling slave), or if it didn’t concern her.
I’ll have to work something out about Anklebiter, as I’m making an effort to enmesh the PCs in the world at least a little (see the earliest blog posts about this campaign), but there’s no rush. So, for this session anyway, the PCs cheerfully involved Anklebiter in their excursion into the Gray.
In the Gray, it’s just the same, except everything’s black and white, and they spot Pringe, who they are trying to rescue, lying half-dead and surrounded by zombies. The mechanics of this fight ended up a little different than my original conception, but basically there was a disembodied, animating intelligence, which possessed a zombie and gave it an aura 5, all zombies in that aura gain +5 to attack and damage. The intelligence could shift to another zombie in the aura, heal a zombie in the aura, or give a zombie in the aura a basic attack, all as minor actions, so, in theory it’d do those things each turn. The zombies themselves were low-level soldiers who were only a threat when they had combat advantage (+2d6 necrotic damage) or with that +5 bonus.
As per usual with a fight against Vero’s controller, the zombies were all dazed most of the time. I’m not sure, in retrospect, what I’d visualized as the logical way this goes, but I ended up adding two rules to the combat on the fly, in an attempt to maintain what I perceived as an appropriate level of challenge: one, zombies in the Gray have phasing and I gave them an at-will attack which permitted them to move their speed and then make an attack, ie, a charge but without all those charge requirements about movement; and two, after a zombie dropped, I rolled a d6, and that many turns later the zombie got up and rejoined the combat. The first effect was just me patching over my failure to account for Vero’s incredible proficiency for dazing, while the second was something I’d have planned in advance if I’d thought of it. When the zombies kept getting back up, the players realized that in fact they weren’t going to be able to defeat I-Cannot-Be-Helped, and needed to, instead, pick up Pringe and carry him back out. This was complicated by the zombies carrying him into dangerous difficult terrain, but resulted in a pretty good combat encounter.
Afterwards, the PCs were low on healing surges and daily powers, and unable to take an extended rest for another milestone at least, so they decided it’d be wisest to have a nice low-key conversation with the NPCs, find out all they could about Kra-Hnur. I promised them a handout for the next session, so, I’ll put that together. I’d go into a lot more detail about it now, put up the current version of my Kra-Hnur notes, but the PCs won’t be done with Kra-Hnur by the time this is online, and I don’t want to spoil.