The Battle of Brindol

Awesome, awesome session today.

We begin by introducing Loven’s replacement, a changeling rogue/swordsage named 20 (though he prefers to be called “Free.”) His actual player wasn’t around, but a substitute player handles both Holden and Free.

Due to some miscommunication with the original player, Free made many choices that were not only suboptimal, but downright dangerous to the party (Charging Minotaur for a Swordsage who had 10 Strength, for one, 4 ranks only in UMD, and dumped Cha and Wis.) Lyka’s player had tried to help this guy make his new character, but unfortunately it seems this didn’t work.

In any case, everyone spent about an hour and a half fixing Free (with his original player’s permission). After gear was chosen, skill points reassigned, and martial maneuvers re-selected, we were finally able to begin.

Training the Lions

The party decides to go ahead and train the Lions of Brindol for their new and improved careers. Lyka successfully trains Teyani in her new career as a Fighter/Warblade.
Holden, with his short temper, is unable to keep his cool in transmitting his ideals to Wrogann, and fails to give him his Crusader levels.
Kikkeni, crippled by her level loss, is unable to make the DC and rolls low as well, so Narcy remains an ordinary fighter.
Finally, Free passes all his skill checks and successfully trains Jonz as a sniper (somehow).

After seven days’ training, the sentries on the wall call everyone’s attention to the horizon. The Red Hand has come into view.

The Red Hand troops set up just outside of bow range. Kikkeni, still a bit addled by her recent Raising, champs at the bit and tries to convince the others to ride out on their pet dire lion.

They convince her to hold back, and so they wait.

The Hammer Falls

The alarm goes up—two artillery teams have begun their bombardment. From the wall, the outlines of three hulking ogres and two enormous warforged titans are visible—the titans are heavily modified, and from the gates Linny can make out that each has one massive arm-mounted cannon powered by human-sized Eberron dragonshards. Each of the titans lets loose a shrieking, wailing projectile that pulverizes the walls extremely quickly.

From their HQ at Brindol Keep, the PCs decide to go after the southern strike team, since they can get there closer.

Before they go, Jaarmath, Ulverth, Immerstal, and Lady Kaal gather the PCs for one last word.

“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be. If we survive here, then good work, everyone. If we fall, gods help us.”

After setting up the Mindlink and Telepathic Bonds, the PCs march out and make a run for it.

The PCs start out 450 feet away from the ogre/titan battery. Lyka makes a run for it on foot, while Holden and Free, mounted on the dire lion (whom Lyka says reminds her of her grandfather), ride out as fast as they could.

Kikkeni and Linny remain behind. Immediately Kikkeni opens fire with her Energy balls, but since she could only hit one of them at a time she focuses on one of the three ogres. The first ogre saves well against the energy balls and is able to survive the first few blasts well, but soon is unable to weather the fire and starts chucking boulders at Kikkeni. The other two ogres and the titans keep up their fire.

By now they realize (and Linny also mentions) that the titans can only fire after three rounds of recharging their dragonshard resonators. It takes a bit of juice to get the dragonshards to reach critical, so they can only fire more or less every 20 seconds (or every fourth round). Linny tries taking potshots at the ogres with Ice Knife, but she’s unable to even make their AC.

Before long, the melee characters close the distance. The three ogres go down quickly once the frontliners get to them. The party then focuses its attention on the Titans. At this point, though, Kikkeni wants to conserve her PP and decides to refrain from launching any more projectiles.

Lyka attacks one of them all on her own and wails on it with everything she’s got, eventually accumulating enough damage for the titan to un-entrench itself and start trying to stomp her. With its cannon no longer trained on the wall, they party at this point has bought at least a one minute extension on the wall’s life span.

Holden, the lion, and Free don’t fare against the second titan so well. Their weapons deal miserable damage despite Holden full attacking and using Fight with mount to give his lion full attacks. Even when he did get Elder Mountain Hammer, Holden rolled a natural one and lost his first opportunity to deal significant damage to it. Unfazed, the titan continues recharging and firing. Seeing her companions in distress, Linny decides to use Divine Vigor and make a run for it to get close enough to drop an Earth Reaver on the Titan that continues to fire.

It takes her a couple more rounds to get close enough even with her enhanced run speed, but once Linny fires off the Earth Reaver, the titan fails its reflex save and topples. With their target disabled, Holden, the lion and Free continue their assault.

As the titan gets up, the three take their AOOs against the mechanical monster while Linny follows up reluctantly with a Sound Lance. Though the titan is resistant to sonic damage, the blast rips off a huge chunk of its armor.

Lyka, in the meantime, continues beating on the other titan while sustaining severe injuries from the titan’s stomps. With a final Soaring Raptor Strike, she sunders the titan’s dragonshard resonator and it goes down.

Holden’s lion manages the impossible—winning a grapple check against the titan. This ties up its cannon and prevents it from firing. Free attempts to use Devastating Throw on the titan twice (he wanted to be able to brag about it here), but fails completely—at one point he fails by 1.

Finally, Holden gets Mountain Hammer and bashes the titan’s chest cavity in. The titan goes down.

After picking up their loot (a whole bunch of dragonshards from the exploding resonators, some GP, a Minor Schema of Resist Energy and a Robe of Useful Items), they try to contact Jaarmath.

Jaarmath only replies “Oh gods, it’s coming! COME QUICKLY!”

Fire in the Night

Abithriax—55 feet long, with gold dragonmarks embossed onto his ebon horns, and holding an enormous Red Hand banner in his front claws—flies overhead, roaring a challenge:

“I, Abithriax, Chosen Prince of Tiamat, hereby claim this city in the name of the Dragonqueen! If you wish to dispute my claim, come after me if you dare!”

He then flies over Cathedral square and throws down the flagpole-sized standard into the earth. With the Red Hand now flying over the city, Abithriax begins circling and setting the city on fire, butchering any troops he could get his claws into.

The PCs make a run for it, quaffing potions and casting spells as they went—most notably, Magic Circle Against Evil, Righteous Wrath of the Faithful, Fell the Greatest Foe, and Antidragon Aura.

By the time they get into the city, the entire southern district is on fire, and the windstorm (conjured by Ulwai) is causing the fires to spread at a dramatic rate. The inferno raises huge clouds of choking smoke that block out the sky. The party wants to put out the fires first, but knowing that the dragon could easily start them again, they face down the dragon.

However, they unwisely chose to enter and remain in tight formation—as they are unable to spot the dragon through the thick smoke and unwilling to take cover between the burning buildings, they remain in the city street, flailing in panic.

The dragon swoops down over them, uses his Blindsense to pinpoint them, and, swooping out of the smoke, uses his Explosive Metabreath. I roll 49 damage out of 10d10—slightly below average—but this is enough to send Kikkeni to the negatives instantly. Free and Linny also fail and take the full brunt of the blast, while Lyka and Loven save. The lion also fails its save and is dropped to 8 HP out of 60 (it had taken 3 damage from Holden spurring it). The shockwave from the dragonbreath knocks everyone prone. While the dragon is visible, though, Linny notices the multiple dragonmark glyphs orbiting around it and successfully identifies the buffs it has active.

Remembering their Potions of Fly, Lyka and Free quaff theirs while Linny desperately tries to get herself back up to decent HP. Holden spends some time trying to get back onto his mount, only to get swatted by the dragon with a Flyby Awesome Blow. The dragon’s attack throws Holden 10 feet from his mount and flat onto his face on the pavement stones. Abithriax then climbs sharply into the smoke.

Linny, in her desperation, uses the second to the last charge on her Staff of Healing to bring back Kikkeni to full HP. However, with the dragon flying too high above the smoke for them, everyone is unable to attack him directly.

Lyka and Free attempt to fly a bit higher, but are still unable to maneuver much. Everyone pretty much fumbles around, flailing and panicking.

Free then decides to make a heroic sacrifice. He flies up to about 30 feet and readies an action to attack the dragon once it gets into range.

The dragon spots him, and takes a bite out of him. With 14 HP left, he drops to -1. And falls to the ground. And craters for 10 damage. Exeunt Free.

Lyka tries to use Soaring Raptor Strike but gets a face full of Dragonmark glyphs as she bounces off the shimmering barrier.

However, this buys the party some very important time—the dragon is now BELOW the smoke and in range. Torn between outright blasting and conserving PP, Kikkeni decides to use Ego Whip, albeit pumped up. She realizes she could take it down through ability damage as well, so fires off a max-augmented Ego Whip.

Before she does this, though, I remember one thing I ALWAYS forget on dragons: Frightful Presence. Everyone but the dire lion makes their saves, so oh well.

Kikkeni she breaches spell resistance.
Abithriax fails his save.
Kikkeni rolls 5 damage.

“You’re not as cool as you think you are.”

Abithriax, his pride wounded, drops down to 9 charisma. Still a long ways to go, but I realize something important—this shuts down his spellcasting.

The party cheers, and Linny excitedly lines up her Dispel Magic.

And all four of the dragon’s buffs—Mage Armor, Shield, Scintillating Scales, and Resist Energy (Cold)—shatter into pieces of arcane detritus.

Another cheer from the party—Free’s sacrifice ACTUALLY GOT THEM SOMEWHERE.

Holden quaffs a potion of fly and begins soaring through the air, while Lyka wails on the dragon with renewed vigor. The dragon attempts to knock Lyka out of the sky with Awesome Blow, but fails, and then lands onto the ground.

Linny attempts to punch a hole in Abithriax with Sound Lance, but fails to breach SR. Fearing that the dragon would be able to launch his breath weapon again, Kikkeni runs off to the side and waits for it to move into view.

Abithriax has other weapons at his disposal, however, and with a flourish, smacks his tail into the pavement. Windows along the street shatter and everyone within 95 feet fails their bull rush resist attempts against the dragon and are sent sprawling to the ground. Even the dire lion is knocked down.

Only Holden and Lyka, flying above the ground, are unaffected.

At this point, Abithriax is still at a massive 180+ HP. But Lyka has other ideas. Using Dancing Mongoose, she full attacks—and crits. Piling on her multiple attacks plus Fell the Greatest Foe, Lyka racks up an amazing 91 damage on Abithriax and takes off almost half of his HP in one turn.

I pick my jaw up off the floor. Linny follows up with Earth Reaver, using her Manifest Ethos ability from Paragnostic Apostle to turn its fire damage into sacred damage. Another huge chunk is taken out of Abithriax, and although he isn’t knocked prone, he’s down to about 71 HP.

Enter Holden and a maul furiously glowing with the Silver Flame’s Divine Surge. Crack.

10 HP left. The dragon angrily roars at Holden, vowing to drag him screaming to Dolurrh, and full attacks, taking a -10 penalty to use Power Attack. Only the bite and two wings hit, though (he was lucky the tail didn’t bean him) and Holden takes about 50+damage.

Kikkeni tries to finish off the dragon with an Energy Bolt, but fails to breach SR.

Lyka attempts one last full attack, slashing madly. She takes several swipes and finally plunges her longsword into the dragon’s heart, ripping its chest cavity open. Dragonmark glyphs erupt into a fiery conflagration around the dragon and begin consuming its body as it lets out a horrible dying roar—until Abithriax explodes.

As the fire and smoke clear, ash rains down from the sky.

Just as Kikkeni laments how she wanted one of the horns as a souvenir, one of the horns indeed comes spinning out of the sky and crashes into the ground.

Kikkeni levels up from the XP.

Commentary
1. Awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. This definitely makes up for the colossal suck that was the Regiarix battle. Everyone was able to contribute meaningfully in this session.
2. The players quip how Free, in his two encounters, was able to contribute far more than Loven was able to do in his
entire career.
3. I scrapped the trebuchet—just too much trouble to deal with.
4. The party needs to conserve its resources very well, though—Linny’s primary blasting spells are gone, and she’s now down one Dispel Magic. Kikkeni still has about 1/3 of her PP left, but that was a bit too much spent in the opening battles. They’ve got a long way to go, and I think they were a bit too careless in the first one.
5. The sub player has been accepted as an official player now, and is planning to put together a decent sniper. He’s done quite well as a player in out past games, so I think he’ll be a good addition.
6. I’ve put together a fair bit of surprises for the coming battles.
a. Streets of Blood will feature a larger number of hobgoblins using indirect volleys pinpointed by hobgoblin dragoons on manticore mounts plus one Doom Hand Confessor (upgraded Doom Hand Warpriest)
b. Berserkers galore and some other nasty martial treats.
c. Still no idea if I should modify the third wave. Probably not.
d. Fourth wave for flavor: spellcasters mounted on a howdah on an otherwise standard warforged titan’s back. This might be a bit too much, so the casters will now have to pace themselves as they call on their reinforcements.
7. Lyka. Is. Amazing. She went from meat grinder to adamantine grinder to, as Linny’s player calls her, an
“anime character.”

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