Session 3

Days 2-4 of the adventure: Much wickedness is smote with a flying, burning, stuffed owlbear, allies are made and an old paladin is given a chance at redemption, and the PCs behold their first dragon.

12 Lharvion, 998 YK
Hydra Aftermath
After defeating the hydra, the party searches the wagon and retrieves the +1 mithral breastplate. This goes to Ashie.  The party crosses and continues north.

The trip to Vraath Keep is approximately an hour from the Blackwater Causeway, but 30 minutes into their trip, they run into a not-so-friendly forest denizen.

Girallon Attack
Jorr spots a girallon stalking the PCs in the woods. The monster growls at them.
Initiative: Kikkeni, Girallon, Holden, Loven, Ashie, Jorr.

This random encounter goes by surprisingly fast. Kikkeni opens up by moving behind some trees to prevent the girallon from charging at her, but it covers the distance pretty quickly by double moving (it spotted her first).  Everyone else moves to close in.

At the top of the second round, Kikkeni uses a simple but highly effective power on the raging monkey: déjà vu. Naturally the creature fails its save—It has to repeat its last action, so it moves toward Kikkeni. Again. A risky tactic, but this prevents the ape from using its decidedly deadly full attack. By this time everyone was within its 10-foot reach, but due to déjà vu, the girallon couldn’t do a damn thing. Everybody wails on the monster with Jorr joining in to flank and plant a dagger in the girallon’s ribs. This continues for one more turn. The girallon fails to make any attacks at all until Holden bashes its skull in with Mountain Hammer. One dead ape.
Stakeout
The party continues north and arrive at the periphery of Vraath Keep at around 11 am of Day 2. Loven and Jorr scout ahead and scout the perimeter. Jorr identifies the scattered large skeletons as those of werebears and wereboars, but apart from seeing the breach in the wall and the crushed gates, they don’t find anything else outside.
Jorr didn’t want to go in, and Loven wouldn’t dare venture in alone, so the two retreat to the camp.

Kikkeni is completey out of power points, and deciding they didn’t want to enter the keep without heavy artillery, the party sets up camp and rests, with Loven staking out the castle from a tree. He spots the fake haunt (of course he just knows there’s a glow and eerie moaning), and the smoke rising from the keep.

Once more before they enter the keep, Loven, Jorr and Seiza the iron defender sneak towards the breach in the southern wall. They hear hobgoblins making lame elf jokes (Jorr translates), and they see the embers of a fire burning low, casting a flickering light. They report back to the rest of the party.

At approximately 8 pm, the team moves in, with Jorr remaining in the camp to watch over the horses.

Breach
The party decides to enter the doors to the right of the entrance (the stables). Listening carefully, Holden detects creatures speaking Goblin inside. With nothing else to do, the party sticks to the wall of the north guard tower, and Holden opens the door.

The goblin riders inside were too busy with their game of stickbeetle to notice that they were being creeped up on, so the PCs get a surprise round. However, due to bad positioning (only Holden had line of sight into the stables interior), all of them end up passing their standard actions.

Round 1: Holden and Ashie roll 23s on their initiative and go first. Holden enters and attacks the first goblin rider, taking off about half his HP using his greatsword. Ashie uses up her second eternal wand of shield use for the day.
The gobbo (already damaged) closer to the door makes a run for the worg stables, but Holden makes his AOO and cuts the goblin in half before he’s able to do anything.
Next, Seiza, Ashie’s homunculus, runs inside and attacks the second goblin, taking out a good chunk of its HP. Hearing the death scream of the goblin, one of the worgs (the closer one) closes the ground between its stall and Ashie quickly, and tries to bite. However, Ashie’s high AC keeps the worg at bay.
Kikkeni enters, and also raises her inertial armor. The second worg rushes to confront Ashie and misses as well.
Loven enters , rapier drawn, and runs up to the haystack in position to attack the last goblin. Loven sneaks (Rider B is still flat-footed), but rolls low. He ends up dealing only about 12 damage, but his bleeding attack renders him a dead man walking. He retaliates, attacking Loven, but he misses badly.

Round 2: Holden turns on Worg B, while Ashie attempts to put some distance between herself and the worgs, five-foot stepping back toward the door and shooting at the goblin with her magic missile wand. Her homunculus attacks the second goblin, tearing its throat out and killing it before it gets to act again. The first worg attacks Holden, but is unable to bypass his AC. Kikkeni fires cold energy missile at the two worgs; A saves, but Kikkeni rolls really badly. A only takes 4 damage, while B takes the full 8 damage. Still not daunted, the second worg fights on and attacks Loven, but misses. Loven tries to move into a flanking position, risking the AOO from the first one. Worg A hits and easily trips Loven.  This round is incredibly noisy, with the worgs yelping loudly. The manticore in the nest at the southern end of the keep climbs onto the roof of its lair, peering at the sources of the sound, but doesn’t bother to do anything.

Round 3: Holden attacks the first worg this time, rolling maximum damage, dropping it down to 8 HP. Ashie moves back even further and tries to use her wand once more, but rolls low on her UMD check. Seiza runs to engage worg B, killing it. Kikkeni conservers her power points and passes her turn, while Loven gets up, provoking an AOO from Worg A. He gets hit again, and his attack misses too.

Round 4: Holden finally takes down Worg A with Mountain Hammer.  The party quickly closes the door and tries to figure out what to do.

After a brief discussion, they wait for any reactions to the sound of fighting. Nothing really happens, so they decide to check out the building on the other end of the keep (the manticore’s lair).

They sneak up, avoiding the break the wall where the flickering firelight had been seen earlier. They open the door in the southern tower, cramming into it. Holden tries to listen through the door to the manticore lair, but hears nothing—Ashie can see why.

Ashie was the only party member left outside the southern tower; she sees the manticore looming on the roof of its lair. It peers at them and says  “No bother, Koth inside tower.”

A few halfhearted attempts at diplomacy end with the manticore telling them to go away since Koth “pay better,” and retreats groggily into its lair. (It’s not the brightest crayon in the box.)

Taxidermist’s Nightmare
Holden and Seiza take up positions near the crack in the barracks’ eastern wall, while the rest of the party goes to the north end.  Holden screams, with a thick dwarven accent, “Help! Help!”

Instead of rushing to his aid, one of the hobgoblins simply laughs, saying “I’m so drunk, I can hear a dwarf speaking in bad Goblin!” Much laughing echoes out of the barracks. Holden hears a deep, angry grunt from the other side of the room.

Holden: “Help! Gods damn it, HELP!”
Second Hobgoblin: “Hey, I think I can hear it too! ‘HELP! HELP!'”

By now, the hobgoblins are in stitches. Holden hears the grunt again; it sounds like a much larger creature. The minotaur can smell the dwarf now, so it angrily yells at its minions to wise up—intruders were about. The barracks goes silent for a moment, and then the scream of drawn steel rips out of the room. Holden steps straight into the breach in the wall, and he spots Karkilan the minotaur, and three of the four hobgoblins.
Initiative:
Kikkeni, Koth (not joining the battle yet, but he rolled 24), Loven, Veteran A, B, Seiza,C, Karkilan, Ashie, D, Holden.

Kikkeni opens the door, sees Koth’s stuffed owlbear and the fourth hobgoblin, and improvises. Telekinetic thrust sends the owlbear and one of the hobgoblins (B) flying. I made an honest mistake here, completely forgetting the augmentation cap on psionic powers. I rule that the owlbear, due to poor stuffing, is only about 100 lbs, while the hobgoblin with his armor totals about 225 lbs. She augments the power further than she should have been able to, and flings the owlbear (large enough to hit more than one target because they were all adjacent), while she sends B flying toward A.  Kikkeni crit misses on C, but hits D and Karkilan with the owlbear, dealing 4d6 damage. B fails his save and, being dense and heavy,  would deal an astounding 9d6 damage to A. Thankfully, Kikkeni rolls low and B smacks into the wall as A ducks. B falls on top of A. Loven leaps into the doorway, rapier drawn, but sticks to the wall. A is able to disentangle himself and attacks Kikkeni. He misses. B likewise gets up and stands beside A, right inside the doorway.  Seiza runs in and sticks close to Loven. C sprints for the doorway as well (provoking an AOO from Loven), attempting to engage the deadly caster. Karkilan moves to the crushed wall to attack Holden and misses, while Ashie casts fireball from a scroll.

A tremendous burst of fire sets Karkilan, C, D, Karkilan’s bed, C and D’s bunk, AND the owlbear alight. Karkilan saves, but C and D fail. Everyone survives it, though. D manages to run away from the burning upholstery, and then Holden goes in to attack the minotaur.

Once more, Kikkeni flings the burning stuffed owlbear, but at this point  I remember the augmentation limit—Kikkeni shouldn’t be able to augment at all, since she’s only at Manifester Lv 5. We don’t bother backtracking the previous telekinetic thrust, though, but this time, she can only fling the owlbear. Once more, she hurls it at the now angry minotaur. At this point, Koth opens the door to his tower, asking what the blazes is going on, SEES that the blazes ARE going on, and quickly casts invisibility. The encounter has just become a boss battle.

Koth actually double moves out of the place and is now in the courtyard, however. The manticore climbs onto the roof of its lair again after smelling the scorched minotaur.
Loven attacks C, but finds his blade parried. A and B continue to ineffectually attack Kikkeni. Karkilan tries to chop Holden down, but misses again. Ashie uses her last scroll of fireball, dropping Karkilan and D.

C soon goes down, then B. Memory is fuzzy as to how this happened, but eventually, it was just the party, the invisible Koth, and the manticore, who still isn’t attacking, and A, standing in the doorway of the barracks.

Koth spots Ashie and Kikkeni, and drops a fireball on them. Ashie saves, while Kikkeni fails. Kikkeni is now at critical HP, while Ashie is in the low teens. The fireball also catches A in the blast and vaporizes him.

Loven tries to go take a sniping position outside by the boulder at the barracks’ northeast corner. Holden spits curses, going after Koth, while the manticore rains its spines at Ashie—Kikkeni is thankfully out of the manticore’s line of sight. Two of the spines hit—Ashie is now down to single digits.

Holden yells at Kikkeni, telling her to get the hell into the room, but she bravely says she still has a job to do, and uses the last of her PP to energy push Koth. He saves against most of the damage, but he gets flung into the pile of wereboar bones leaning against the southern guard tower. Flitting behind the boulders in the courtyard like a shadow, Loven shoots from his bow, but is too far to make sneak attacks. Ashie also takes one last shot with a scroll of scorching ray before running back into the room to help Kikkeni get back up on her feet.

Koth goes invisible. With the girls vulnerable inside the building, Holden rushes in to support them, while the manticore jumps to the southern wall and perches there, shooting at Holden. The girls use Ashie’s potions to heal, while Koth reappears and blasts Holden with the dreaded ray of enfeeblement.  Seiza charges Koth, who fights it away with his morning star, while the manticore jumps down beside Koth to defend him. Eventually, Seiza shakes down Koth, dropping him to -1. The manticore flies away.

The party levels up—the encounter gave massive XP, and creativity got them through it despite having two near deaths.

Even better, Koth isn’t dead, so Holden stabilizes him and Loven leaves him gagged and bound. They drag Koth close to the burning bed, douse him in alcohol, and have the homunculus lie down on top of him to prevent him from escaping.

Skeletons in the Basement
They decide to go to the second floor first to check out the “ghost,” finding the dead man and the glowing light. Holden performs a few rites for the dead farmer and puts out the continuous flame. They then check out the room below.

Due to crappy sense skill ranks, Holden can’t find the vault entrance despite his stonecunning racial trait. I rule that he can sense something is off about the foor, but it takes 20 minutes of searching by Kikkeni to find the vault entrance.  They climb in.

The first thing they check out is the skeleton by the eastern alcove. They check it out to see that a silvered greataxe is embedded in its ribcage. “The Arm of Vraath” is engraved in Dwarven runes on the axe haft, while the Silver Torch emblem is embossed on the axe blades.  At first they surmise that Vraath somehow committed suicide, but Holden says it would have been impossible for him to swing a greataxe into his own chest. A sneaking suspicion comes upon them: Vraath may have turned against his men for some reason.  Holden does a little RIP ritual on the skeleton, then Loven comes in and shoves the skeleton unceremoniously out of the way. Holden picks up the greataxe.

Loven’s player realizes he HAS NO RANKS IN OPEN LOCK. Since he leveled up, I just let him put ranks in, but he still keeps failing. Eventually he just takes 20 on each lock, taking over 3 hours to open everything. Ashie gets impatient, imbues the big chest with the spell storing item infusion, putting knock into it, and basically has the chest open itself. They claim the staff of life and the other odds and ends inside the chest. While Loven slaves over the locks until past midnight, Holden goes back to camp, wakes Jorr up, and tells him what happened.  (I forget to give the PCs the replacements for Vraath’s bastard sword and gauntlets of ogre power, though they should have picked those up.)

Ashie and Kikkeni meanwhile read Vraath’s journals, learning how he boasted of killing over 300 lycanthropes (“They weren’t all that big.”—this was supposed to imply that he massacred children, though they didn’t catch that until I explained it later), then skip to his last entry (“We were attacked. My men were torn to pieces. Those left shouldn’t find out what happened to me.”—implying he got bitten, and Kikkeni feels her suspicions were confirmed.)

The players first think that it would be a good idea to give Jorr the deed to Vraath Keep, but don’t tell him this. As they move into the barracks, Jorr points out something the players missed almost entirely: The war room. As they read Koth’s notes (Ashie and Holden know Goblin), the PCs finally realize that they’re in much deeper than they thought they were.  Jorr then sees Koth, draws his dagger, and almost kills him. Holden tells him that if he keeps Koth alive, they might have chances to kill more goblins, so Jorr leaves him alone.

They bed down in the safety of the vault and rest until the next morning.

13th Lharvion, 998 YK

Jack Bauer, Pt. 2

The PCs drag Koth back to Drellin’s Ferry, along with the map and Jorr. They immediately set up an interrogation session with the town’s leaders. At first, Norro Wiston, the town speaker, is pleased to know that they’ve cleared out Vraath Keep, but then Holden shows them the map—-translating each note into Common, writing the notes onto the map.

Norro Wiston is flustered and indecisive. He has no idea what to do, and at the moment is in denial. The PCs then turn to Koth and have him talk about this.

Interestingly enough, Holden and Loven don’t actually physically inflict any damage on Koth, and most of their attempts fail. They prefer not to use the elixirs of truth in Koth’s bag. Koth refuses to say anything about their size and what the Red Hand is, though the party has a pretty good idea that it’s a large force, able to easily raze the vale’s hamlets—Koth says that they’re only hamlets, so it won’t take much to destroy them anyway.

Ashie really knows how to push the buttons here:

Holden: How many? Infantry, cavalry, artillery?
Koth: *grins, baring teeth*
Holden: How many tribes are there?!
Koth: We are only one tribe now!
Ashie: How many are there in your tribe?
Norro: We can handle a hundred or so.
Koth: If you could handle it, you wouldn’t be asking for help!
Ashie: “So apparently, you weren’t trusted with holding the Skull Gorge Bridge.”
Koth: “They trusted me with the vanguard.”
Ashie: “So you’re only part of a larger force.”
Koth: “*nervous, seething grin*”

When Ashie finally mentions how important the Skull Gorge Bridge is to Norro, he goes ballistic (while Koth goes pale). Norro says that it’s the only source of trade for them, and that the destruction of the bridge would render the land isolated until the bridge is rebuit.

The PCs are able to learn that Koth really is only in charge of the advance party. Norro is slowly being convinced, but he refuses to mobilize his town to evacuate until he gets a number—it’s just too much trouble for a possible false alarm. Ashie’s able to make a Knowledge (History) check regarding the Ghostlord, and remembers him as a powerful caster from the goblinoid Dhakaani empire and that his contemporaries were the old Dhakaani province of Rhest (had to throw out the idea that they were an ancient human kingdom, since this area had long been under the Galifar kingdom).

Ashie also suspects that while Kharn and Saarvith sound like Goblin names, she thinks Tyrgarun and Ozzyrandion aren’t. Koth gives vague answers to this question.

In the end, they decide that they can’t do much more.  Holden turns Koth over to Jorr. Jorr says that it’s no fun killing him with him bound, but Holden warns him that untying him would allow him to cast spells.

Jorr says “This is fer mah daughter!” and plunges his dagger into Koth’s eye.

The PCs leave the deed to Vraath Keep with Soranna, and say that she could probably use it to hold the Dawn Way for a while longer; in the mean time, they were headed to Skull Gorge.  Norro agrees that if destroying the bridge is the only way to save the townsfolk, then it must be done.

They buy a few more scrolls and leave Drellin’s Ferry at about 1 pm of Day 3.  Jorr mentions the effigy tribal marker up north along the Dawn Way, they could check it out too.

“Warklegnaw”
They travel the whole day, way into the evening. At about 10 pm, they see the marker and decide to walk up the track at Jorr’s suggestion.

After two hours of walking into the night, they get to the ruined fortress and find an old human sitting by his cooking dire boar.

They spy on him, listening to his ranting, and eventually they see the bottom half of the Silver Torch tattoo on the man’s face. Holden decides to approach in a diplomatic manner, thinking that as a Silver Flame member, the man could help them. He moves without stealth into the clearing, carrying his (Vraath’s) axe in a nonthreatening gesture.

The man notices Holden’s Silver Flame symbol and goes into a rage.

Holden: The Silver Flame needs your aid.
Warklegnaw: The Silver Flame ABANDONED ME! They TURNED ON ME!

At this point he changes into his werebear form and says he just wants to be left alone, and that he wanted nothing to do with them, while breaking into coughing fits.

Holden makes a diplomacy check (“You did not kill them—the demon that holds your body did. Your soul is innocent of those crimes.”), tells him about the situation, and eventually, the werebear says that he was willing to help—if they gave him back his axe. Holden then realizes that Warklegnaw was Amery Vraath, and he offers him the weapon.

Vraath says that he may still be able to find some of his tribe—the tribe that had accepted him after he showed that he repented of slaughtering their children—and that he would be able to fight for justice again.  What he really wanted was this—a chance to redeem himself.

“I do not want to go back to Thrane. They will not accept me. They will kill me. But I will fight for justice once more. Only the Flame can judge me. I do not want to go back to the church and suffer their prejudices. Now leave me be. An old paladin has a lot to think about. To pray about.”

He offers them some food before they leave, and also says they can stay for the night. The party eats, while Loven attempts to amuse Vraath by telling him about the flying burning owlbear. His miserable façade cracks, just a bit. The party soon leaves Vraath, and continues hiking toward Skull Gorge Bridge.

They arrive at approximately 4 AM.

14th Lharvion 998 YK

Here Be Dragons

They see the bridge. And the hobgoblins. And Ozzyrandion. The party decides that it might be too late if they wait until midday (if they rested), so they decide to pull back about an hour’s walk and begin to strategize. An hour before dawn, they get back up and begin the walk back to Skull Gorge.

End of session.
DM Notes:

Thoughts
It just keeps getting better and better. Now that Kikkeni’s player knows what her powers do, she’s able to function much more effectively. I just fear she may be burning up her points too fast. She’s got to learn how to pace herself.
-Burning Owlbear.
-The Vraath = Warklegnaw angle turned out beautifully. Holden really felt that he was serving the greater good by consorting even with a lycanthrope to thwart the much greater threat of a Demon Overlord’s cult rampaging across Eberron.
-At first I was a bit troubled that the PCs decided to go back to Drellin’s Ferry first, but I realized that I should let the PCs move as they please. It paid off.
-The interrogation was a bit messy—I can’t remember half of what they got out of Koth. For the most part, they didn’t really get anything—they didn’t bother using magic, and frankly, Koth would have made his saves easily if they forced him to drink the elixir. My plan was to make him tell the truth—in Infernal, which nobody in the party knew. It didn’t come to that, though, and now, Koth is dead.

The PCs have now bought Drellin’s Ferry 3 more days.  Let’s see if they can raise that to six days by wrecking Skull Gorge bridge.

Next week: Ozzyrandion, betrayer of Siberys

Since the party is pretty capable and knows that they need to take the bridge no matter what, I can expect that they’re going to be burning through most of their resources to kill the dragon. As such, a medium Ozzy would be nothing more than an annoying flying lizard (considering how easily the party dealt with Koth, who had dangerous blasting and invisibility). Here is my upgraded version of Ozzy.

Ozzyrandion

Ozzyrandion                                         CR 8
Male Juvenile Green Dragon
LE Large dragon
Init +4; Senses darkvision 120 ft., low-light vision, keen senses, blindsense 60 ft.; Listen +19, Spot +19
Languages Draconic, Common
——————————–
AC 22, touch 9, flat-footed 22
(-1 size, +13 natural)
hp 133 (14 HD)
Immune acid, sleep, paralysis
Fort +12, Ref +9, Will +11
Speed 40 ft. (8 squares); fly 150 ft. (average)
——————————–
Melee bite +17 (2d6+4) and
2 claws +12 (1d8+2) and
2 wing slams +12 (1d6+2) and
tail slash +12 (1d8+6)
Melee Power Dive overrun +12 (prone) plus
secondary slam +17 (1d8+6)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft. (10 ft with bite)
Base Atk +14; Grp +22
Atk Options Flyby Attack
Special Actions green dragon breath, Power Dive
——————————–
Sorcerer Spells Known (CLvl 1st, DC 12+spell level)
0(5/day)—acid splash, flare, read magic, detect magic
1st(4/day)—lesser orb of fire, blood wind
——————————–
Abilities Str 19, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 14
SQ dragon traits
Feats Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative, Improved Maneuverability*, Power Dive*, Wingover
Skills Bluff +19, Concentration +20, Spellcraft +19, Spot +19, Listen +19, Escape Artist +17, Sense Motive +19, Knowledge (History) +19
——————————–
Green Dragon Breath (Su) At will, standard
8d6 acid damage; 40 ft cone; Reflex DC 20 half

*See Draconomicon.

Art by Wayne Reynolds.

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