Raiding Mt Rushmore

Due to unfortunate circumstances, Lyka’s player was still absent and Kikkeni’s player, who has been the most consistent in terms of attendance, suddenly couldn’t make it either. I couldn’t contact Nox’s player, but he had informed me beforehand that he’d be late.

Only Linny’s player and Holden’s player arrived. I was worried about splitting the subbed characters between the two of them, but eventually we got so bored that we figured we might as well go ahead. Holden’s player handled Nox, while Linny’s player boldly handled Kikkeni, Linny and Lyka.

We ran into some difficulty with reading Kikkeni’s power sheets (which had been printed on a dot matrix printer), but we somehow managed. Anyway, without further ado:

Day 51: The Onrushing Storm

The PCs get up at 6 AM and begin the treacherous 2 hour journey down the pass that descends the cliff face. They notice that the weather over the canyon hasn’t changed; it has been cloudy since yesterday, and thunder periodically rumbles through the cloud cover. Although there is no wind and rain, the dark sky is foreboding.
Linny notices that the bridge below is a chain suspension bridge held up by crackling electric rings at intervals; these look very similar to the air elemental rings used in airships. Their close proximity to each other causes a sort of resonance that is likely responsible for the bad weather.

At about 8 AM they arrive at the foot of the bridge. They do the smart thing and tie themselves by the waist onto the handrail chains, and slowly begin the quarter-mile walk across the swaying bridge.

About 200 feet from the other end, the five-headed statue of Tiamat that looms over the bridge begins to speak.

“Who dares approach the Fane of Tiamat?”
“Priest Captain Holden Magroen of the Silver Flame.”

Lyka states her rank and complete name as well.

While the voice echoes throughout the canyon and clearly sounds like five different voices, the PCs make their will saves versus the ventriloquism. Lyka is able to pinpoint the source of the voice in the Tiamat statue’s blue dragon head.

Linny asks if it’s possible to shatter the dragon head. It certainly is, but given the scale of the statue, they’re going to have to deal a lot of damage to it.

(For some reason, Holden’s player was under the impression that the statue was only human-sized until here; only now does he realize that it’s more like Mount Rushmore.)

The statue continues: “I do not know what your business here is. Leave an offering for Tiamat and depart from here, and I might spare you.”

Holden replies: “Well, moving toward the statue counts as ‘departing from here’, doesn’t it?” He slings the maul over his shoulder and continues walking down the path. The others follow. Nox drinks a potion of invisiibility.

Almost immediately, the blue dragon Tyrgarun, the guardian of the Fane and father of Azarr Kul, jumps out of the maw of the blue dragon head and dives, landing with a thunderous tremor on the ledge.

Cue BGM.

“I am Tyrgarun, the Onrushing Storm and father of Azarr Kul! I shall not allow you to obstruct his plans! Dare you come against me?”

Kikkeni raises her Inertial Armor, while Linny casts Mass Shield of Faith. Lyka activates her Siberys Armor, spreading her dragonmark wings, and takes to the air. Holden drinks a potion of Fly and likewise moves closer to the dragon.

Immediately the dragon flies off the path and takes a position 65 feet away from the bridge, to the left of the PCs. Only Linny and Lyka succeed on their Frightful Presence saves—everyone else gets nailed. Tyrgarun lights up Holden and Lyka with his breath weapon. Both fail their saves and get blasted with 43 damage.

Kikkeni once more attempts to blast Tyrgarun, but she begins a long string of failures to breach SR. It would have been much better if she used electricity, since it gets a bonus to breaching resistance, but unfortunately the dragon is completely immune to it.

Lyka and Holden each drink potions of Enlarge Person and try to catch up with the dragon. Linny attempts in vain to blast Tyrgarun with Sound Lance, but she likewise fails miserably to breach his spell resistance.

Holden closes in, but before he even manages to get close enough to swing, Tyrgarun does a sharp turn and buzzes Holden, who misses on his AOO. The dragon instead sets upon Kikkeni, goring her with his horn. He attempts to throw her off the bridge, but she makes her reflex save and escapes with a graze. Nox misses yet again, but due to his hide check and the dragon still can’t spot him. (Okay I messed up; there was nowhere to hide. It really wouldn’t have mattered much in the end because…well, read till the end.)

Kikkeni fires yet another energy ball which simply dissipates against the dragon’s body. Linny likewise fails to get any more damage out of her second Sound Lance.

Lyka and Holden struggle to catch up with Tyrgarun, but he’s just too fast and his AC’s just too high. The dragon makes a wingover and comes straight back at Holden, goring him with his horn. Holden is able to make the reflex save to avoid the Awesome Blow, but he’s completely unable to dent Tyrgarun for now. Nox whiffs his shot yet again.

Kikkeni keeps up her bombardment, but to no effect. Out of Sound Lances, Linny instead takes up her Wand of Ice Knife—the only spell she has that can actually hit the dragon—and fails to breach SR.

Now within range, Holden smites Tyrgarun with Divine Surge, scoring a hefty 56 damage. The dragon makes his massive damage save, but Lyka circles and flanks him, dropping a Soaring Raptor Strike on him from behind. For the first time, the dragon roars in pain.

The angered dragon roars: “Oh, you shouldn’t have done that.”

“What, slept with your wife?” snarls Holden.

The dragon extends his wings and beats down hard, checking Lyka and Holden with the wind, and opens up a savage attack. The bite and first claw hits Holden, while the second claw hits Lyka. Lucky for her, the tail misses. Freaked out by the dragon’s savagery, Nox messes up his shot.

At this point Kikkeni stops trying to shoot and instead uses the Horn of Abithriax to use Psionic Fly on herself, and concentrates into Psionic Focus. Linny tries her Wand of Ice Knife once more, but the projectile fizzles ineffectually on the dragon’s hide.

Holden smites Tyrgarun once more, smashing him in the face with Bonecrusher. The dragon’s horn cracks down the middle. Lyka follows up with a Death From Above, stabbing deep into the dragon’s back.

This time Tyrgarun lets out an agonized wail.

“That’s what your wife said,” says Holden.

The furious dragon punches it, flying straight up to 90 feet above Lyka and Holden (who both whiff their AOOs), then soaring across the bridge once more to a position about 95 feet away from the bridge.

Nox calibrates his crossbow and uses the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the dragon’s position! He takes a single step to close the distance a bit!

And misses. Ho hum.

Kikkeni takes off, breaking away from Linny and Nox, while Linny tries her Ice Knife one more time. This time she rolls a natural 20 and breaches Tyrgarun’s SR, but fails to confirm her critical. The mighty shard of ice plunges into the dragon for an impressive 8 damage.

Lyka and Holden try their best to pursue the dragon, but don’t even make it halfway.

The dragon uses his Wand of Fireball and sears Linny (she makes her save) and then flies back to a position straight above the bridge, hovering above one of the lightning rings. The PCs don’t realize his plan—he intends to dive onto the bridge (sending the chain bridge quivering like a rubber band) and fire off his maximized breath weapon.

The two frontliners close in, but Nox composes himself and takes his shot. The confirmed critical hit plunges straight into Tyrgarun’s eye. He deals over 53 damage with his sneak, but the critical hit would have been enough to kill him at this point. (Which is why it didn’t matter if he was hidden or not.)

“You…cannot…stop…my son.”

Dying in mid-flight, Tyrgarun’s massive corpse crashes onto the air elemental ring. Draconic blood reacts with powerful magic, and a brilliant blue-white flash lights up the entire canyon. The impact sends the bridge swaying wildly, but Nox and Linny are able to hold on.

Realizing the dragon had just died, the PCs begin rejoicing.

Lyka then ruins the mood by asking Holden: “So, sir…did you really sleep with the dragon’s wife?”

“…”

The Dragon’s Hoard

Linny’s player complains that he’s tired and would rather call it off, while Holden’s player says that he’d like to see what the dragon’s hoard was. Just then, Nox’s player arrives (apparently held captive by a series of six Statistics tests). We inform him of his character’s accomplishment, to which he glumly shakes his head. He lights up at the mention of treasure, however, so he and Holden’s player vote to push on. Linny’s player gives in, and hands over control of Kikkeni and Nox to Nox’s player.

They investigate the blue dragon head’s maw and find the alcoves in which the four other dragons had dwelt. They realize that the scents and furniture of the areas are obvious clues to what types of dragons had lived there, and come to the conclusion that these were indeed the nests of the slain dragons. They spot Ozzyrandion’s obsessive stacks of bones, Regiarix’s messy apartment where a small, chair and bed still stand, Varanthian’s intricately carved shrine to Tiamat, and Abithriax’s sulfurous alcove, decorated with skulls mounted into the rock face, which had been glassed by fiery breath.
Finally, they come to the end of the chamber, where they see an enormous treasure trove. The pile of gold is inviting, but three weapons call their attention: a giant hammer the size of a small tree, an enormous crossbow, and a bone white, dragonshard-mounted staff covered in glyphs.

The adamantine hammer shrinks to fit Holden’s size as he touches it, and Linny identifies it as “Kumbhakarna’s Penance,” the personal weapon of one of Xen’Drik’s titan lords who had repented of his deeds as the giant empire fell. A dragon who witnessed the dying Titan’s repentance purified the weapon, and it now bears the inscription “By my hand my own people fell; by my fist shall your people stand.” Penance is a blessed weapon and as such breaches DR/good, and also has the power to send a shockwave rippling through the ground.

The crossbow is nowhere near as ancient, but is no less impressive: It’s a Tzanthus Gastrophetes, a state-of-the-art crossbow designed by the gnomes of Zilargo as a special assassination weapon for members of the Trust. The weapon is actually Large, but its compensation systems allow Medium and Small characters to use it without much problems, albeit the weapon needs to be calibrated every morning. It can also produce its own special ammunition and collapse into a compact, highly concealable but unusable form for storage.

Linny’s staff is a Quill of Aureon, a staff that gives some skill bonuses and has a couple of per-day utility spells, as well as Blast of Force and Thunderlance, twice and once per day, respectively. As a relic of Aureon, the staff can also be transformed into a Minor Schema of a divine spell or arcane spell (though activating it for arcane spells can fail).

The PCs debate on what to do with the gold, but decide to leave it for now. They fly back down to the entrance.

Dynamic Entry

The players mess around a bit, not realizing the peril of the door. Nox fails to notice any traps and calls it clear, so they start saying “WE BREAK THE DOOR FOR DYNAMIC ENTRY!”

They then start talking about the value of large stone doors, and in the end decide to just push it open.

The whine of arcane energy building up fills the air around them, and the dragon heads in the doorframe let loose a massive blast of energy. Everyone fails their saves, and get whacked with a solid 45 damage.
Needless to say, they spend more time healing after the trap than they do after the dragon.

Nox finally disables the trap, and the party, now trap-scared, enters.

They mess around in the hallway for about 20 minutes as Nox pores over every nook and cranny trying to find a trap. They don’t find any, and enter the foyer.

Two blue abishai and their pet zombie wyverns greet them.

Kikkeni throws Lyka at one of the Abishai in its alcove, but misses. The shifter thuds against the wall, but gets up and faces the fiend. Nox readies a shot (He makes use of Deadeye Shot when there are no sniping spots), while the second Abishai flies up and towards the ceiling above the doorway.

Holden enters and is immediately (well, in a manner of speaking) set upon by the two zombie wyverns. Eventually, Holden explodes one of the wyverns while the second is incinerated by Linny with her Wand of Scorching Ray.

It’s the abishai that are extremely annoying due to their DR and regeneration.

The two Abishai deal some notable damage with their stings (IF they connect), but for the most part they don’t really threaten the PCs; eventually, Linny casts Align Weapon on Nox snipes one and busts its chest open. Kikkeni, frustrated by the Abishai’s numerous immunities and resistances, resorts to using sonic energy missiles, but it’s not long before the two fiends regenerate the damage away. Nox finishes off the Abishai that attacks him. Lyka beats one of them into submission, applies an Oil of Bless Weapon, and then decapitates it.

Thoughts

-I honestly didn’t think they’d make it. Two players were able to take down the single most formidable monster they’ve met so far—and that was considering that Lyka’s player hasn’t even leveled up her character. It was also great how their lousy luck took a turn for the better; once they got over the hump, they started beating Tyrgarun senseless.

-I really enjoyed creating the ultimate weapons. Getting something that had a lot of MIC properties wasn’t enough, really. I really wanted the players to walk home with iconic items that are both useful and memorable.

-They’re going to have to pace themselves now. I made the Fane a lot more dangerous than it is in the book, and all of the devils inside have telepathy. It’s also best that they find a good place to rest, but at the same time they shouldn’t linger too long–the clock is ticking.

-The Big Reveal on what exactly is going on and how much time the PCs have left should be next session. I hope they do it right.

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