In our 13th Age campaign (The Stonewood) we entered session 3. Last time in the dramatic fight against the party’s nemesis the Lizardman Shaman, Erevan the wizard was stuck down by lightning but his comatose body now has an Elven rat companion. The group secure Perch before setting watches to hold up over night. During Raf’s watch all the other characters find themselves in a shared dream, a dream in which they all find themselves as  rat versions of themselves. (I edited some of David Petersen’s sketches to create some ratty versions of the heroes)

The rat heroes are set on their dreamy adventure by a fire that speaks to them a short poem over and over again. They then head into the hedge maze looking for the keys within Erevan’s lightning-tainted mind. I liked that they worried about hacking into the hedge or carving marks into the bone-like ground in case they were hurting the wizards fragile brain.

As they navigated through the maze they encountered various memories and ideas, some relating to specific characters in the party others to memories recent and in the distant past. The whole dream was setup as a single encounter in game mechanics with restricted recoveries and a slowly advancing escalation die. The heroes really seemed to be struggling with being worn down by the dream with some areas of the maze offering them some relief in the form of healing after they were slammed by some horrific encounter.

I created pawns for the more combat-centric areas and illustrations for others trying to keep the black and white theme going. This image shows all the bits I had ready, but we didnt get to all the encounters so the tentacle ritual and the undead ranger and a few other bits didnt get to torture the party. They did get through a heap of mini encounters though and everyone got their turn in the spotlight.

I used more handouts this time, portraits of each hero for them, bigger prints of key encounter baddies and the fire. Here are some of the encounters from the session, some were very short others took time:
Sword Fountain: lightning fountain with skeletal birds and a magical sword for Garm.
Voices: just the sounds of children playing with magic before there is a magical accident and crying.
Lizard Lightning: statue with lightning staff used to break boulders (plus the attack of the stone skeletons)
The Tree: test for Dalgar the Dwarf to climb up and over.
Finger beast: attack of a large elf with sharpened fingers for teeth of the 3 elven races.
The statue: Navi finds an emotional clue to her past, a statue of a tiny halfling-like rider upon a fire panther.
Whispers: fight the topiary beasts to get their buckets and fill one with something secret to find a way out.

As the dream was collapsing around them at the well, all the characters make their escape waking up sweating and with the knowledge of the keys. They sever one of Erevan’s fingers, fill a bucket with Navi’s desire and cast the ritual using the now red rat (all the choices they made during the dream).

Ritual time, the wizard is brought back from his unatural slumber and is now bound to the red rat as a familiar. Dalgar’s ritual doesnt go completely to plan though and a dark entity within Erevan passes into the dwarf during the casting. Both the heroes now feel the entity watching them from within, smiling…