This was supposed to be the final session for this summer, but it seems that we’ll be able to sneak in a couple more sessions before the school year breaks us down with work.


Locked Girl ~The Girl’s Secret Room Betrayers of Siberys

I didn’t push through with my original plan to beef up Ozzy to Juvenile. At the recommendation of some other DMs, I kept Ozzyrandion’s hit dice, but I made him large. I didn’t even raise his ability scores; I only wanted higher damage dice and a tail slash attack. I’m glad I  didn’t use a Juvenile (CR 8) version; this would have killed the PCs. Thanks to all those who helped me. Anyway, here goes.

The players decided to wait until dawn (approx 6 am of Day 4) before attacking so that they wouldn’t get hosed by illumination disadvantages. At this point they were very close to fatigue, but they didn’t want to risk concealment and getting spotted before they could even see their targets.  Everything else had better senses than they did.

Ashie the artificer then proceeded to buff the hell out of the party while they stayed in the trees at the very edge of the Witchwood:
Holden: –shield of faith, bull’s strength, enlarge person
Loven: –cat’s grace, shield
Jorr: –cat’s grace
Ashie: eagle’s splendor, shield

She also cast haste on everyone and gave Holden the potion of fly.

Dripping with buffs, they rolled initiative, with Ashie, Jorr, Loven and Kikkeni staying in the undergrowth, “hiding” (they didn’t know that Ozzyrandion had spotted them all), while Holden and Seiza charged down the stone pathway toward the Hell Hound Scorch Drake. Unfortunately, Ozzyrandion rolled a natural 20 on his initiative.

Immediately, Holden and Seiza were bathed in a shower of supernatural acid. Seiza was instantly reduced into a spitting, hissing puddle of slag, which severely injured Ashie with its death feedback. Holden also failed his save and was left at half HP.  He went next and charged the closer scorch drake, pulping it instantly. The other scorch drake also died before it was even able to attack—it ran out of move speed right outside Holden’s reach and he burst it like an overripe tomato the next round. (I should have replaced them with Dire Wolves here; Hell Hounds are seriously rather useless.)
The archers in the camp began grabbing their gear (with the one round delay stipulated in the adventure), while the archers let loose. Due to some wise placement, however, the PCs were able to avoid fire from the archers on the far side by placing themselves behind one of the towers. Ashie and Kikkeni ran up the stairs; Kikkeni’s speed was up to an amazing 70 feet thanks to Speed of Thought and haste.

Almost immediately the hobgoblins started dying. Kikkeni was able to throw one of the nearer ones into the other with telekinetic thrust, knocking the target out of the tower and to his death at the base. Jorr kept missing this time, and would prove to be mostly a distraction for the archers. He took potshots at Ozzyrandion, but he just kept missing.

And so did the archers. The total AC ratings of the PCs were about as high as Ozzyrandion’s, so they’d only hit on a roll of 17 or higher. The Stormtrooper Effect seems to apply to these guys, as they kept rolling badly while their numbers were large and then started rolling better when they began thinning out. The archers in the camp and the sergeant immediately closed in after picking up their gear; the sergeant had no ranged capability (due to being a Warblade 3) and double moved as fast as he could across the bridge in order to take out Kikkeni, while Jorr tried to flank and sneak attack (but he missed).

Kikkeni stayed on the staircase of the southeast tower for a good part of the encounter, as she wanted to avoid the breath weapon and Flyby Attacks coming from at least half of the possible attack vectors. Ashie wasn’t so fortunate, as she stayed on the ground. Their combined firepower, however, packed a punch. After Holden had smote Ozzy, who was hovering above him, with a successful Bonecrusher, the two girls were able to blast the dragon down to less than half HP in short order.
Loven just made some rather ineffectual attacks for most of the encounter (having 1d4+2 damage on his CSB is really lame. Any suggestions for making this guy work better? He hasn’t really been making an effort to get into sneak attack position.), managing only to crit against the sergeant, who was threatening Kikkeni as she came down the stairs for a better spot.

Kikkeni renders the sergeant useless by making him chase her like a lovelorn stalker by using déjà vu (Seriously, I hate this power now), wasting his turn.

Enraged by the barrage, (and almost getting smacked into a wall with energy push) the dragon flies back to his roost and to drink his potion of cure serious wounds, then his potion of invisibility. Freaked out by the dragon’s sudden disappearance, the party attempts to stay put, thinking it mostly unwise to devote all their resources to killing the archers. Ashie casts call lightning from a scroll and begins blasting away while the flying dwarf dive bombs the crossing archers. His Charging Minotaur shatters one’s body in several places, sending him flying like a rag doll along the bridge.

Everyone is still frustrated by the dragon’s invisibility; they did their best to spread apart to avoid being bathed in acid. To their chagrin, however, Ozzyrandion reappears right beside Kikkeni and proceeds to wail on her. Kikkeni survives the full attack with 5 HP left.  Holden, coming from the bridge, dive bomb-charges the dragon, but he fumbles his attack roll.

Kikkeni accomplishes something amazing here. She makes a concentration check to manifest defensively, and uses energy push on Ozzyrandion.

The dragon makes his Reflex Save.
And fails his opposed Strength check—by 10.
The impact of the psionic power sends him skidding 15 feet toward the edge of the map. Using her incredible speed, Kikkeni runs out of the danger zone and towards the bridge itself. Ashie blasts away at Ozzy with her dwindling call lightning shots in the meantime, and finds herself backed into a corner at the edge of the map. Ozzyrandion charges her on the ground. His bite bounces off the edge of her shield. Ashie risks the AOO and she runs as far as she could in the tower’s direction—she just really wants to stay away from the dragon’s full attacks.  Holden runs to her rescue, attacking the dragon but missing once more.  This puts Holden and Ashie directly in the path of an acid blast. But we’ll get back to that later.

In the mean time, Jorr is exchanging fire with the hobgoblins and taking most of their shots. The archers fire mostly at Holden, the giant flying dwarf, but seeing that this doesn’t work too well, go after Jorr instead. Loven simply keeps missing or dealing pitiful damage, though he does manage to KO the sergeant.

Ozzyrandion uses his breath weapon on Holden and Ashie. Both save successfully, but by now are at critical HP levels—however, Ozzy is critically injured as well. Holden retaliates in the most fantastic manner—using Revitalizing Strike, he shoves his maul into the dragon’s maw, splitting the dragon’s head open. I describe the fatal strike as a surge of warmth and strength while the dragon’s polluted life force drains away—the Silver Flame’s power fills Holden, rewarding him for smiting this foul, corrupt dragon.

Just as Holden strikes down Ozzyrandion, Jorr takes a fatal shot, dropping to 0 HP. I rule that the extra 2 HP from Holden’s Martial Spirit saves his life and gets him right back up, but the cinematic image of Holden turning toward Jorr just as he gets shot down is pretty awesome.

Jorr stands right back up and crits the guy who shot him as he runs away, shooting him through the head.

Ashie, in the meantime, attempts to overtake the hobgoblins by doing the most awesome action movie stunt in the adventure so far. She first wanted to slide down the scree-covered slope in order to get close enough to use her dragonmark’s dimension leap power to teleport across, but I rule that she needs to make a Reflex save to avoid falling, then make the Concentration check to cast her spell-like ability in violent motion.  I give her an alternative, but she chickens out at first. Then she remembers her action points.

She has an awesome move speed thanks to haste. This gives her a prodigious boost to her Jump check. She rolls a 2 on her d20. She spends an action point to gain an additional 4. Her total Jump check lands her a 13—enough to jump 10 feet off the edge of the cliff. Then she taps her dragonmark to dimension leap the remaining distance and lands right on the edge of the other cliff. She lands with a wand in each hand, ready to kick some Red Hand rear.

Kikkeni, emboldened by their victory over the dragon, runs over the bridge as well, and slams the northeast tower archer with telekinetic thrust into the northwestern archer.

At this point the hobgoblins begin to retreat, but Holden beats them by landing at the base of the stairs of the northwestern tower. Kikkeni lays down psionic grease, and both the hobgoblins slip up and fall. Holden ends them with a full attack.

Cinder Hill

The party apprehends two hobgoblins—the sergeant and one of the archers–and ties them up, hanging them off the side of the bridge while they’re unconscious.

Jorr and Loven continue to scout out Cinder Hill, while the rest of the party searches the bridge.

The scouts confirm their worst fears: The Red Hand is a horde, and they have not only thousands of hobgoblin and goblin warrios, but worgs and ogres as well—not to mention a red dragon and at least 3 warforged titans, which Loven spots being stripped of their tattered Cyran battle banners and refitted with Red Hand heraldry.

The party decides to hightail it back to the town, dragging their prisoners behind them. Kikkeni easily destroys the bridge by using energy cone to blast the weak spot, ruining it after 3 shots.

I decide against throwing another random encounter against them since we were running out of real time, so I let them get quickly through the Witchwood back to town.

The party gets back to town at about 10 pm of Day 4 to deposit the prisoners at the Old Toll House and rest for the night.

Jack Bauer. Again.
The next morning, the PCs take Norro Wiston and Sorrana to the interrogation. Wiston expresses his distaste for the torture, but the PCs are determined to do this.

The torture is pretty fruitless by now. The grunts don’t know much; all they get from the crazed sergeant are visions of glory that Azarr Kul showed them, of a Dragon-inspired hobgoblin empire greater than Dhakaan, spreading across Khorvaire and Argonnessen.  A dragon-inspired hobgoblin empire ruled by Tiamat.

Kikkeni rolls a high enough knowledge check to realize the implications of this crazy idea, but by now the sergeant is no longer saying anything helpful. Both hobgoblins are executed.

Ahead of Schedule
It’s only day 5 and the PCs are already itching to get Drellin’s Ferry evacuated. This seems to be something that the adventure doesn’t expect. I make the lame excuse that they have to wait for two more days since Iormel is out of town and Wiston sort of fears him, and thus refuses to start the town council without him.

The PCs try talking to Sorrana, and although she expresses utmost concern for the safety of the town, she says she ultimately has to follow orders, and that despite Iormel being an unlikeable, proud bastard who is likely to oppose the town’s departure, they really have to wait for him.

OOC I tell the players that they’re actually way ahead of schedule and that the Red Hand is not going to reach Drellin’s Ferry anytime soon. This causes them to relax a bit, so they decide to craft stuff—Ashie wants new homunculi to replace Seiza.

-The PCs performed admirably on the bridge despite the difficulty of the encounter; their strategic discussion paid off.
-The dragon died faster than I had expected—he was already supposed to run away after he attacked Ashie, but Holden and Ashie presented him with such a great opportunity to kill them that I decided to just have him use his breath weapon again.
-I was a bit frustrated by the PCs being a bit too] convinced that fighting to save the town was a hopeless cause, their panic really caused me to make some lame, railroading excuses which I preferred not to do. Also, they’re way too early—the Chimera attack and the town council would have to be bumped up way earlier.
-We’re about to enter the second part of the adventure, and I’m pretty happy with the progress we’ve made.


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