Session 18

Hack and slash session this time. The Wyrmsmokes were rightly billed as a dangerous place, and one does not simply walk into Mordor.

Journey Through the Wyrmsmokes, Continued
The PCs get up on the morning of Day 50 after camping on the edge of the Fernia manifest zone. They drink their potions of Endure Elements and set out on their way.

It’s not long before they encounter a group of fiendish enemies.

A Certain Psionic Railgun

The PCs arrive in the center of a Fernia manifest zone in the middle of active volcanic scabland and spot an ominous reddish glow in the distance crossing the road. Nox takes another potion of invisibility and sneaks ahead to investigate.

Nox’s rolls are really high, and the fiends don’t even hear him as he approaches them from the volcanic scab rock. He goes back to the party and describes the appearance of the fiends–about as tall as a man, hunched over and heavily built, with glowing red eyes, shredded, useless wings, long writhing beards, and upward curving horns. The three of them wield massive, saw-toothed glaives. Linny identifies them as barbazu.

Nox, still invisible, climbs up the scab basalt along the other side of the road and takes up a sniping position. Before he does so, he empties his pack of all his scrolls, spreading them out all over the ground. He then takes his shot, severely injuring one of the devils. The other PCs attempt to blitz the barbazu and catch them off guard, but the plan backfires–the devils hear them coming.

Kikkeni takes the high ground on top of the basalt scab along with Linny. Lyka runs along the path instead. Two of the devils teleport to confront Kikkeni while the third teleports into Lyka’s path. Although Linny was able to identify their weaknesses and defenses as devils, she didn’t roll high enough to determine their exact abilities.

The devil taunts Lyka, saying that the strong faith of Purified like her make their souls good eating. Lyka replies “My blades taste good too.”

Holden moves too slowly to help Kikkeni, so Kikkeni once more throws Holden at one of the Barbazu using telekinetic thrust.
Linny fires off a Sound Burst on the two devils, but it barely grazes them. Kikkeni tries to back away, but due to their teleportation and reach weapons, the devils are too hard to shake.
Nox takes another shot at the already bleeding devil, which Holden dispatches with his maul.

The remaining devil pursuing Kikkeni bites into its finger, saying it’s not that easy to kill them, and summons another Barbazu. Much swearing around the table.

Linny keeps up her blasting while Lyka tears into the devil that accosted her. The badly injured devil takes a step back, bites into its arm and scatters blood all over the ground. The black blood crawls around the warblade and begins coalescing into a dozen Lemures—all around Lyka. More swearing.
Linny identifies the Lemures as “entry-level devils,” and Kikkeni’s player says “…so they’re call center agents?”
I reply: “If you think in terms of infernal bureaucracy, I don’t think the truth would be very far from that.”

Kikkeni Energy Pushes the two devils near her into each other, but the recently-summoned one teleports to Linny in the back, slashing Linny with a devastating critical hit.

Nox drops a Black Tentacles centered on Lyka, disabling the Lemures—and Lyka. Ironically, the devil with 1 HP gets away. (More snickering about how Lyka—and her player’s characters–are ALWAYS in compromising situations—grappled by tentacles and surrounded by devils.)

Eventually, Lyka gets out of the tentacles, and Kikkeni pulls her out by throwing her at one of the other devils. Holden finishes off the last Barbazu. The tentacles crush the remaining lemures into gruesome black mush, and the PCs press on.

Wyvern Attack

The road snakes through deeply fissured ground with a lot of rock spires scattered about. The spires make great roosts for wyverns, and a pair are nesting in this area.

Nox once more drinks a potion of Invisibility, getting close. He immediately expresses interest in retrieving the wyvern stings for use as poison, and tries to snipe one. He damages the wyvern, which immediately attacks Lyka (again—she’s always in front). The Wyvern successfully grabs Lyka and attempts to pull her up, but she’s able to break free.

Kikkeni once more flings her favorite Dwarven projectile, crushing the wyvern’s ribcage. The wyvern bleeds to death from Nox’s shot.

The second wyvern buzzes Linny, stinging her, but she makes her save. She tries to back away while Holden and Lyka try to hit the wyvern (Nox scoring a sneak by using Deadeye Shot), but the dragon thrashes Linny down to 5 HP. The PCs take down the wyvern and continue on their journey.

They later encounter a flamestorm, but they’re able to find cover in time under a rock shelf.

They continue marching for 4 more hours than they usually do in a day, and fatigue begins setting in. Ironically, while Lyka fails two checks, Holden fails one and Nox fails all four forced march checks, Linny gets fine well enough. They make camp, scarcely a day’s march away from the Fane.


Last Legs
They at last come to a place where the ground drops away dramatically into the large central canyon of the Wyrmsmokes. The lip of the canyon is guarded by a small outpost of elite troops—four legion devils (probably the most complex CR 3 monster EVER), a Narzugon and its nightmare mount, and a 15-foot tall, two-ton monstrosity: a Mountain Troll.

The outpost is built among the ruins of a crashed Lyrandar airship, and a couple of Ballista bunkers are scattered about the area.

The party is spotted by the guards long before the party sees them, so the Narzugon and his troops immediately form ranks.

The Narzugon and its nightmare prove very hard to pin down thanks to the mount’s at-will Etherealness. It phases through the ground, while the mountain troll charges. Kikkeni activates her True Seeing, and Lyka draws Vaanon’Gan, the greatsword she got from Kharn.

The PCs try to take up covered positions behind the crashed airship, while Nox, once more invisible, tries to get into a bunker behind the troll. He dumps his oil of Dolorous Blow onto the ballista bolt and waits for an opportunity to shoot.

The legion devils, in the meantime, move up to a place behind another hull section. (These guys are pretty scary, being able to teleport to locations close to other legion devils as a move action).

The Narzugon phases up out of the ground beside Kikkeni, fills the area with smoke, but misses his attacks. The nightmare goes ethereal once more.
Nox tries to attack the mountain troll, but misses due to nonproficiency penalties, and wastes a very good opportunity.

Lyka runs up to the troll and uses Death from Above, but the beast smacks her with its greatclub for half her HP. Lyka, being a natural magnet for devils, once again gets surrounded by teleporting legion devils, who begin wailing on her (only one hits, though, despite their massive bonuses).

Holden challenges the Narzugon to single combat, which telepathically accepts. Kikkeni points out the Narzugon’s location, but Holden misses due to not seeing his target. Instead of rushing in to attack him, the Narzugon flies behind Linny and shoots Holden with its triple scorching ray.

Lyka uses Mithral Tornado to slash the legion devils, significantly damaging their collective HP, then tumbles out of the mass and the troll’s reach, after which the cleric gets up to her to heal her with CureCrit. Nox takes another shot at the troll, this time with his crossbow, and finally gets in some decent damage.

Kikkeni then blasts the troll and the legion devils with a powerfully-augmented Energy Missile: Fire (failing to remember that the legion devils are immune to it). Although she deals damage to the troll, the legion devils are unscathed.

Linny then drops an Earth Reaver on the legion devils and the troll, who make their collective saves but get blasted into oblivion by the flying rocks. After getting healed, Lyka activates her lesser Siberys armor, sprouting glowing dragonmark wings, and flies up to the troll once more, and uses Soaring Raptor Strike and Vaanon’Gan’s bloodfeeding power. As she leaps out of the sunlight, she plunges the greatsword into the troll’s chest, and the vicious weapon shreds the troll with its extending spines. The troll collapses.

The Narzugon attacks Holden but misses again, and Holden smites the devil with a Divine Surge, disintegrating it in a column of silver fire. Its rider dead, the nightmare goes ethereal and flies off.

As Lyka turns her back on the troll, however, it gets back up and whacks her again with its club. Nox finishes it off with a headshot. Two tons of troll hit the dirt, the sound of the impact reverberating off the canyon walls.

As the PCs walk up to the edge of the cliff, the view sends shivers down their spine.

A treacherous winding path (the last two hours of the trip) descends the cliff face below them, and crosses a long, narrow stone bridge to the other side. And there, at the end of the bridge, is the most impressive door any of them has ever seen:

The five stone heads of the Tiamat statue gaze tyrannically across the canyon.
Thoughts
-While I thought it was rather boring to run hack and slash the whole day, it was pretty cool to throw fiends of various natures at the PCs. The encounters didn’t really draw much blood apart from the last one, but they sure had a fun time trying to match wits with the devils.

-Nox managed to level up to 11 at the end of the encounter (technically, so does Lyka as she’s never died and thus should have the most XP. We spend about an hour trying to account for disparate XP totals and decide that Nox has the most accurate count, so I set Lyka’s XP to his.)

-Nox really wanted to make those wyvern stings into poison, but we underestimated the difficulty of crafting something overnight, so he gave up on them (he’d unfortunately invested all of his Lv 11 skill points into Craft:Poisonmaking). I let him use the stings as single-use, improvised weapons.

-We discovered that Kikkeni was lacking 2 powers she was supposed to get at Lv 10, and then realize that she completely forgot to level up. @_@

-Now that they’ve got two Lv 11 characters, I’ll have to raise some of the smaller encounters in the Fane. There’s still a fair amount of difficulty in getting around the Fane due to its defensive mechanisms and its small size (hard to escape monsters in the corridors).

-The Psionic Dwarf Railgun thing is getting to be really powerful. It allows Holden to bypass his inherent slowness, feeds his damage pool, AND deals damage to the enemy. It might be harder to use in the close quarters of the Fane, though.

-They made good time thanks to that forced march. It’s the end of Day 51, so they’ve got four days to beat the Fane before the Orrery completes its alignment.

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