Session 11 Notes (DM Only)

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Hello Crystal Cavers,

This session has a fight, and then the rest of the session is about exploration and puzzle-solving.

Fight notes: By this point, players who have been attending this season of Encounters know that despite Encounters being a fight-a-week style game, Beyond the Crystal Cave often involves talking to people and/or sparing the innocent combatants. Even people you'd normally fight. Like Basal. Like the leprechauns. Like Ariel. Like the pixies or satyrs. In the original UK1 module, it was best if you didn't fight anything. In this season of Encounters, though the PCs will fight in every session, things go better for the PCs if they don't kill everything.

Therefore, be sure the PCs are clued in to the fact that the berserkers Hamish and Argus are behaving strangely. It's only a DC 13 Insight check to get the facts, but you might consider giving the PCs some clues as well (i.e. acting out the way they slash at the PCs with an unblinking stare, etc). Remember that the berserkers snap out of their charmed state once each of them is bloodied, and that Crystalbrookers (especially barbarians and berserkers) get some big bonuses to Charisma-based checks made to influence them in order to turn them away from the battle.

Exploration Notes: The music in the bowers is the same music the characters heard the crystals "sing" in the Crystal Cave. It's the same music they heard in the Water Palace. Feel free to remind a PC (or all the PCs) where they heard the music before. It's been a minor theme throughout the season, and it's the music the PCs will need to teach the songbirds in the next session.

Give the players some time to puzzle out the relationship between the reflective doors to the palace and the pool. In all likelihood, they'll try to open the doors and then spend some time trying the normal things (spells, lockpicks) trying to open them before looking for other solutions. Like the waterfall at the beginning of the season, this is a puzzle they'll probably have to experiment with for a while before they figure it out. The key to DMing it is to first let them figure it out on their own. If they're beating their heads against the wall, give them a couple minor hints about the pool. Ultimately they'll be more satisfied if they figure it out for themselves. 

Design Notes:
Hamish and Argus are in the original UK1 module. Since time passes more slowly in Porpherio's Garden than in the world, they're barbarians from a bygone age who ended up here; they are under the binding of the Fountain All Heal and they want to protect Orlando and Juliana.

I followed that course in the initial design for the season as well, when each day on the island had been equal to 10 years in the mortal world. The barbarians were people from a time before Crystalbrook had ever been built, and had wandered into the cave hundreds of years ago in the world (but only months ago on the island). Other barbarians in the party--or characters with high History checks--could identify them as people out of time; this thread helped clarify a storyline where Orlando and Juliana were Porpherio and Caerwyn reincarnated after dying days ago on the island; their spirits passed down the fountain and beyond the Crystal Cave where they were reborn in the world, they grew up, met again, fell in love again, and went through the Crystal Cave... where it had only been a few days on the island since they perished, and where the archfey were still fighting over who was responsible for that incident. 

It's difficult, in an Encounters season, to keep notes on time well enough to understand or care enough about those things, though, so in the end those details had to go and the berserkers became Crystalbrookers. 

As for the pool and the doors, I've said previously that I wanted every session of this season to have a trick to it: a puzzle, an unusual combat scenario, or a scenic role-play. The reflecting pool and the doors was my puzzle for this session.

Have a great session 11.

Next week: puzzles galore