J Mathews
United States
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[Note: Tale of Two Parties is being written primarily as a way to see if the experiences of two groups playing in the same game world can create a cogent narrative and to communicate sessions between groups.

Spoilers, such as enemy types, are included but really shouldn't be relied on in your games as I'm not tracking the game while we are playing and specifics can diverge from what happened for narrative reasons. The first session report of the series is here:Tale of Two Parties Start

Current Party
o Ana-Ishi, Savvas Cragheart
o Lenka, Orchid Spellweaver
o Gaius Stoneheart, Inox Brute
o Gizmo, Quatryl Tinkerer

Late one afternoon, the group had put the mountains at their back and were making good time getting back to Gloomhaven when they were halted by Gaius. The Inox was sniffing the air and looking worried. He glanced at Gizmo and grunted, “Cultists!” At that, they looked to the sides of the road for cover. A mall copse of trees set back from the road looked like the best place to retreat to. Huddling amongst the trees it didn’t take long for the cultists to come into view walking in the opposite direction the group had been. They were all dressed in black and walked with heads forward, close to the person ahead of them. The group swayed in an odd, undulating manner while they walked. Taking advantage of the quirks of the odd procession, Gaius and Gizmo stepped out of the grove of trees once they were passed and motioned Lenka and Ana-Ishi to follow. They tracked the cultists for 10 minutes until they turned abruptly onto a partially hidden side path into the woods. Gaius let the procession get a little further ahead before motioning the group to follow.

The group prowled softly through the woods in pursuit of the cultists. Gaius stopped occasionally to make sure they were still on the trail. The trail stopped abruptly at the doors of a neglected crypt. Both Gizmo and Gaius stepped back a bit from the entrance and made preparations for fighting. Gaius glanced over to Lenka and Ana-Ishi, and shrugged, “We have some bad blood towards the cultists and their demon spawn. We take the opportunity to stop their evil when we can. You are welcome to join in the fun.” That last was said as Gaius showed his teeth and started darkening his face with mud that was near the entrance. Ana-Ishi nodded and dropped his food pack to have more access for his weapons. Lenka did likewise. When the four of them were ready, they eased through the door and moved through the shadows towards the glow of the torchlight.

From the shadows, they saw men and skeletons involved a cultish ritual. Gaius nodded at the others and in a rush, they attacked. Time fighting together had improved their ability to coordinate and work off each other’s fighting style. Where previously attempts at this sort of group ambush had resulted in confusion, this went perfectly. In unison Lenka and Ana-Ishi utilized Earth magic to shake the floor and blind the eyes of their opponents. Gaius advanced into the maelstrom as his blade found purchase while one of Gizmo’s contraptions exploded with more chaos and carnage. The initial rush resulted in more than all but two of the enemies dead, and those others were damaged and dazed. With a second effort, all the enemies were down and no alarm had been made. The group moved to the hallway and Ana-Ishi moved out to block part of the hallway, surprising the archers that were guarding the cultists. Behind him ran Gaius, trampling the cultists in his way and advancing far down the hall, where he put his axe into an archer’s head. The remaining archers and cultists got in each other’s way in the hall, some running in fear while others advancing with maniacal glee. The tangle of humanity was too tempting of a target for Lenka, who locked them all down with an icy blast of her magic. A short flurry of activity and there was one remaining cultist in the hall, blood dripping from his wounds. With a look of contempt, he summoned a Living Bones with his last strength. Gaius snorted, stomped over and demolished the skeleton with a single stroke. With the skeleton dealt with, he spat on the dead body of the cultist, “You faced your doom with weakness and were found wanting.”

A yell from the end of the hall they had come from made everyone turn. Gizmo had been poking around and had found a fissure in the wall that appeared to be a door. With Ana-Ishi’s help, they opened it into an ongoing ritual where Earth Demons had already been summoned. The cultist cackled maniacally, “You interlopers are too late. These demons will assure that this becomes your tomb!” Gizmo took a shot at the Cultist and backed hurriedly out of the room, “Run!” But Ana-Ishi had other ideas. He focused and formed boulders from the side of the wall to partially bock the way. “We can stand and fight this,” he yelled. As the demons exited the room, he took some shots at them while retreating back to the group. One shot was rewarded with a yell that was silenced as the Cultist would no longer trouble them. But the Earth Demons came on, filling the hallway and appearing to be an implacable foe. Suddenly they charged, but Gizmo was ready. Ana-Ishi had done a good job of whittling them down and the explosives that Gizmo set off destroyed both demons. The group was temporarily a bit shaken, but Gaius started laughing, “Anyone else want to try our strength!?” The roar echoed down the halls and was answered by the tortured scream of the damned ahead.

Hurrying to the end of the hall, they discovered a door leading to what could only be assumed to be the main ritual room. As the group paused to catch a breath, Ana-Ishi started drawing power from the earth and started faintly glowing. His companions had never seen something like this before, but as abruptly as it had started, it was over. With a roar, the Savvas broke down the door and bounded into the middle of the room. A huge eruption blew a wave of dust and debris out the door and into the hall. Seizing the opportunity, Gaius ran into the room and drove a stumbling cultist into the ground. In the doorway, Gizmo lined up a shot and destroyed a Wind Demon that had been caught up in the blast. Lenka shot a spell at another demon, wounding it but not killing it. Unfortunately for the remaining cultists and their spawn, they were never given a chance to recover from the Cragheart’s entrance and were picked off in short order.

Walking back to the entrance of the crypt, Ana-Ishi voiced disappointment at the lack of treasure in the cultist’s crypt. Gizmo shook his head, “Treasure is nice. But this wasn’t done for treasure. Cultist evil spreads. If everyone doesn’t do their part, the world falls. This is our part.” At the entrance of the crypt Ana-Ishi stopped as the others went to find their packs. He turned to the entrance and braced himself against the doorframe. He concentrated and the glow returned. Tremors started, increasing in violence with each passing. Then suddenly, the roof collapsed in on the crypt and the door sagged onto the resulting heap. All that remained of the crypt was a pile of large rocks. Ana-Ishi turned to the group, “Now I have done my part too.”

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Scenario 4, in Casual Mode
Outcome: Victory, no exhaustion
We decided to do this because it furthered the life goals of two of the characters. So we fed kills to the Brute and the Tinkerer. This was also the third time doing this scenario, but the first time with this group. I tried to keep this group in the dark of what to expect as much as possible because this had been a challenge for the other group. The fact that it was such a curb-stomping speaks to a few possibilities like difference in class composition of the groups or the fact that this group knows each other better than the other group. Overall though, I was shocked at how easy this scenario was compared to before. Still one of the better scenarios we have played though.

To continue the story, go to Chapter 15...

To follow the Void Travelers, go to Chapter 16...
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